Leicester City is latest club linked to Kim Min-jae
Kim Min-jae is never far from the trade rumor headlines and this week is no exception, with the Fenerbahce center back now being touted as a possible Leicester City purchase this summer.
According to reports over the weekend, Premier League club Leicester are interested in acquiring Kim and are not concerned by his contractual buy-out clause worth about 23 million euros ($25 million).
The Leicester rumor comes two weeks after Everton were also said to be looking to make a move for Kim, with Tottenham and Juventus both also reportedly in talks. Although Leicester hasn't been mentioned as a possible contender in recent months, interest in Kim isn't entirely new for the club — the midlands club was reported to have attempted to recruit Kim in both 2020 and 2021, during his time in China.
Kim, nicknamed "The Monster" for his unflappable defense, has been a trade rumor favorite for years, with various European clubs stoking the fire by sending scouts to watch him play.
Kim joined Turkish club Fenerbahce in August last year from Beijing Guoan, where he had played for two years. At the time, he had been linked to a number of top European clubs including FC Porto, Juventus and Tottenham.
Kim is a highly rated defender who offers a formidable presence in the backline that could see him hold his own against more physical players anywhere in the world. Kim's international performance has gained him a lot of attention, especially during the 2017 Asian qualifier for the 2018 Russia World Cup.
Kim's absence at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics — he was named as one of the wildcard picks, but Beijing Guoan declined to release him for the Games — left a devastating hole in Korea's defense and was likely a key reason the team fared so badly. He has 42 caps for the senior Korean men’s team and is one of the most consistent picks for that squad.
Interest in Kim from European clubs appears to have continued to grow since his move to Fenerbahce, where he has proven that his skills can comfortably transfer outside of Asia.
During this year's January transfer window, Fenerbahce reportedly turned down an offer from Italian club Napoli, and Everton was also rumored to have put in a bid.
In March, scouts from Premier League clubs Tottenham Hotspur, Arsenal and Chelsea, Serie A club Juventus and Primeira Liga club FC Porto were all reported to be attending Fenerbahce games to watch Kim play.
But any summer transfer is bound to be complicated by Kim's fitness. The Korean international returned home before the end of the 2021-22 season to undergo surgery on his ankle, taking him out of action for any international fixtures this summer.
Kim is expected to be fit again by the start of the new season, but any team opting to sign him will have to do so without seeing him play after the surgery.
Fenerbahce are also unwilling to sell Kim. The club's president Ali Koc last month told reporters that the club had no interest in selling Kim, calling him the best purchase the club has made for years.
BY JIM BULLEY [email@example.com]