July 07, 2023 10:46
Kim Min-jae of Società Sportiva Calcio Napoli has been named the world's 10th-best center-back by U.S. sports network ESPN.
ESPN earlier this week released its annual FC 100 ranking of the best men's football players and coaches, comprising top 10 lists for nine positions and managers based on votes by 50 experts.
Topping each list is Thibaut Courtois of Real Madrid for goalkeeper, Rúben Dias of Manchester City for center-back, Achraf Hakimi of Paris Saint-Germain for right-back, Alphonso Davies of FC Bayern Munich for left-back, and attacking midfielder Kevin De Bruyne of Manchester City, central midfielder Jude Bellingham of Borussia Dortmund, winger Bukayo Saka of Arsenal, forward Kylian Mbappé of Paris Saint-Germain, striker Erling Haaland of Manchester City and manager Pep Guardiola of Manchester City.
Kim was the only Korean in the ranking.
ESPN said he played "a sure and steady role in Napoli's first Serie A title in 33 years" and is "on the precipice of a 60 million euro or 70 million euro move to Bayern or another megaclub."
But some say that he is undervalued, considering he was named the best defender in Italy's Serie A.
Alessandro Bastoni of Inter Milan placed ninth in the center-back category, and was not even included among the three candidates for best defender in the Serie A last season.
Kim completed three weeks of military training in Nonsan, Gyeonggi Province on Thursday to fulfill a condition of his exemption from mandatory military service, which he was granted after Korea won the gold medal at the 2018 Asian Games in Indonesia.
Bayern Munich's medical staff will reportedly visit Korea to conduct Kim's medical tests, and the club will complete his transfer in a few days.
Meanwhile, Son Heung-min of Tottenham Hotspur ranked fifth in the winger category in 2019 and placed seventh and sixth among forwards in 2020 and 2021, but was missing from this year's list.
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