September 08, 2023 09:56
Kim Min-jae of Bayern Munich was included in the list of 30 candidates for the Ballon d'Or unveiled by French magazine France Football on Wednesday.
The list also includes Kim's teammate Harry Kane, who recently joined the club from Tottenham Hotspur, Lionel Messi of Inter Miami and Erling Haaland of Manchester City.
Kim is the first Asian defender to be nominated for the prestigious award.
Previous Korean nominees include Seol Ki-hyeon (2002), Park Ji-sung (2005) and Son Heung-min (2019 and 2022).
Given that attacking tends to be flashier and more attention-grabbing, defenders rarely win or are nominated for the award. The only defender to have won the Ballon d'Or in its 67-year history is Fabio Cannavaro in 2006.
Among this year's 30 candidates, there are only three defenders: Kim and the Manchester City duo of Ruben Dias and Joao Cancelo.
Messi, who has already won the honor seven times, is considered the frontrunner for this year's award after leading Argentina to victory at the World Cup in Qatar.
The final winner will be determined at the end of next month. France Football annually selects the best football player of the year and awards the Ballon d'Or, which means "Golden Ball" in French. The award has been presented since 1956.
Last year's winner was Karim Benzema, who then played for Real Madrid and has since moved to Al-lttihad in the Saudi Pro League.
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