Praise keeps flooding in for 'Napoli's Rock' Kim Min-jae

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Praise keeps flooding in for 'Napoli's Rock' Kim Min-jae

Ajax's Mohammed Kudus, right, challenges Napoli's Kim Min-jae during a Champions League match in Amsterdam on Oct. 4.  [AP/YONHAP]

Ajax's Mohammed Kudus, right, challenges Napoli's Kim Min-jae during a Champions League match in Amsterdam on Oct. 4. [AP/YONHAP]

 
Kim Min-jae’s dominant debut at Napoli continues to gain attention, with one Serie A analyst going so far as to argue that he is the single best defender playing in the Italian league.
 
FotMob, a popular news and statistics website and app based in Bergen, Norway, on Tuesday published a weekly Serie A review with a section dedicated to Korean center-back Kim. Calling him “Napoli’s Rock,” Serie A expert Matteo Bonetti said Kim is “the most impressive defender in the league.”
 
“Kim Min-Jae has been unbelievably good, to the point where you wonder how Napoli could’ve possibly acquired him for so little (reportedly €18m),” the article said.
 
“Since the summer, Kim has picked up September Player of the Month honors, helped his team get to first place in the standings and is one half of the second best defensive partnership in the league in terms of goals conceded, alongside Amir Rrahmani.  
 
“What’s more impressive is how Kim has matched the best version of Kalidou Koulibaly so quickly — at 6 foot 3, the Korean international is deceptively quick, so you can play a high line without worrying too much about a striker beating him in behind. He’s also very aggressive, reads the game exceptionally well for a player without much experience in the top European leagues, and has looked dominant in the air.”
 
Kim joined Napoli in July from Turkish club Fenerbahce after one year playing in the Super Lig. According to reports, Kim is under contract with Napoli until 2025, with the club retaining the option to extend the deal for two more years. Napoli paid 19.5 million euros ($20 million) to Fenerbahce to trigger Kim’s release clause, and have included a 45-million-euro release clause in his new contract.
 
Since arriving in Naples, Kim has played the full 90 minutes in 11 of Napoli’s 12 games across all competitions, as of press time Wednesday.
 
Across all those games, Kim and the Napoli defensive line have only conceded six goals, five in league games and one against Liverpool. Not only has Kim pulled his weight in defense, he has also scored two Serie A goals so far this season, against Monza on Aug. 21 and Lazio on Sept. 3.
 
That performance has seen Kim earn plenty of accolades of his own, winning the Serie A EA Sports Player of the Month for September and making it into WhoScored.com’s Europe's Best XI for the same month.

BY JIM BULLEY [jim.bulley@joongang.co.kr]
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