Kim Min-jae has already won Thomas Tuchel’s heart.
“We have signed South Korea international defender Kim Min-jae from Napoli,” Bayern Munich announced on the club’s website on Monday. The contract runs until 2028,” the club announced on its website.
The club then released photos and videos of Kim on its social media accounts. The posts included a photo of Kim wearing his new number 3 jersey and a video of him undergoing medical tests in South Korea. As the club had invested a lot of effort into the signing of Kim Min-jae, they posted a series of posts about him as soon as the official announcement was made.
“Munich is every soccer player’s dream club. I’m looking forward to what’s to come. I will continue to develop here. In my conversations with the club, I can see how much they are interested in me. My first goal is to play as many games as possible, and then to win as many trophies as possible,” he said.
His Munich teammates have also welcomed him. In a preseason video released by the club, Joshua Kimmich can be seen approaching Kim and talking to him. The post announcing the signing of Kim also went viral with comments from Munich players welcoming him to the club.
Since joining the team, it seems he has won over his teammates and Tuchel’s heart. Germany’s TZ reported, “Kim Min-jae has become a role model for Munich after rejecting Tuchel’s offer. The new player is in the middle of Munich’s training camp and has earned Tuchel’s praise.” Tuchel said that he praised Kim.
This was due to Kim’s attitude. Kim had been enjoying a vacation after coming out of basic military training earlier this month. He was relaxing in Korea and spending some personal time. He could have enjoyed more time off and joined the team during Munich’s Asian tour, but he chose to join the team first despite Munich’s offer. Moreover, Kim joined training immediately after his arrival, which was bound to make a good impression on the team.
‘TZ’ reported, “Kim Min-jae did not want to waste any time in becoming the boss of the defense and politely declined the club’s offer to join the Asian Tour. He would rather prepare for the season at full speed than take a vacation,” explaining that Kim chose to join the team early rather than take a vacation.
Tuchel was also pleased. “He was fantastic for Napoli last season,” Tuchel said after the signing. He’s had an unusual career path, coming to Napoli from China and Turkkiye, but that speaks volumes about his quality. He is tall, fast, and extremely reliable. He had a flawless season and is the perfect replacement for Luca Hernandez. I’ve spoken to him a few times on video before,” Tuchel said, expressing his excitement about the youngster.
In the video released afterward, Tuchel approached Kim and showed him affection by hugging him and stroking his cheek, saying, “You’re going to do really well here, I’m so happy you’re here. You’re going to love life in Munich, I promise.”
Like Tuchel, there is a lot of excitement in Munich about Kim Min-jae. After the announcement of the signing, the club published a post on their website with information about Kim. While Kim developed into a world-class defender last season, the post was aimed at fans who didn’t know much about him.
“No matter what team he plays for, Kim Min-jae has always been a starter. He is 190 centimeters tall and is strong in the air at Napoli. He won 92 aerial duels in the league last season. This was the second highest among defenders. And he scored two goals with his head alone,” explaining Kim’s ability to win aerial battles.
“He excelled in contested situations last season. He won 63% of his contested balls in all competitions. He only allowed the opponent to dribble five times in 35 league games,” he said, pointing out that Kim’s winning percentage is high and that he doesn’t allow opponents to break through on the dribble very often.
“In addition to his defense, he is a player who can also build up. He has a 91% passing success rate in all competitions, and last season he made the most forward passes (1,057) and received the third most passes (2,547) among field players in Europe’s top five leagues.” Munich also noted his buildup ability.
Once Munich became interested in Kim, they quickly made an approach and reached a personal agreement. During the process, Kim had to travel to South Korea for basic military training, but his overseas agent was in constant contact with Munich and reportedly negotiated an agreement. Munich was willing to pay Kim’s buyout amount and offered him a high salary to win him over.
Munich were keen to sign Kim Min-jae. In order to finalize the deal quickly, the club’s medical team traveled to South Korea to conduct medical tests on the player on the same day as his release from training camp. This was so unusual that the German media even used the phrase “crazy medical” to describe it.
We were expecting an official announcement soon after the medical test, but it’s been quiet for a while. There were many speculations and explanations. Federico Fedele, a famous Italian agent, appeared on Radio Marte and said, “Why is Kim Min-jae’s transfer to Munich delayed? It’s most likely due to Munich’s strategy. They probably want to save money,” suggesting that Munich is trying to pay Kim’s buyout later to save money.
In fact, news broke that Munich paid Kim’s buyout until just before the buyout clause expired. Italian outlet Corriere dello Sport reported on the 14th, “Kim Min-jae is not on Napoli’s list of defenders. Munich have been in contact with Napoli after triggering the player’s buyout clause, and all that remains is to wait for an official announcement.” Munich triggered the player’s buyout clause.
There was another story. It was about Kim Min-jae’s signing bonus. If Kim Min-jae were to move to Munich, the club would have to pay his former team Fenerbahce in addition to Napoli.
Italian media outlet Area Napoli, which covers Napoli-related news, quoted Il Martino as saying, “All negotiations with Munich are over, but the amount of Kim’s buyout keeps changing due to the deferred payment,” explaining why Kim’s move to Munich is being delayed.
As Kim’s buyout clause expires on July 15, Napoli’s local fans seemed to hold out one last hope that Kim might stay with the club. However, the last hope of Napoli fans who wanted Kim to stay was dashed. The fans had a glimmer of hope that Kim could stay at Napoli until news broke that Munich had paid his buyout clause, but their hopes were completely dashed.
Kim Min-jae’s transfer saga has been long and short. The midfielder was linked to Manchester United in the winter transfer window and spent the entirety of last season, when Napoli won the title, being linked with a move to United. The Red Devils had reportedly sent scouts to follow him since the end of last year, and there were even reports in England that the Red Devils had already finalized a personal agreement and that the Red Devils had even visited his home.
Despite all the talk, Kim remained undeterred. Kim maintained his stellar performances from the start of the season and earned personal accolades as he was named Italian Serie A’s Best Defender and Team of the Year after leading Napoli to their first title in 33 years. He was also applauded for being the first Asian player to win the award. 스포츠토토
As the defender became a household name in European soccer beyond Italy, interest in his move grew. Following the initial rumors of a Man Utd move, the summer transfer window opened with interest from Munich, who have been at the forefront of the race to sign Kim ever since. Despite being linked to the player early on, United were unable to beat the Bavarians to the signing.
The reason for Munich’s desire to sign Kim was clear. It was because of an exodus of defenders. They were in talks with Hernandez to renew his contract, but he decided to accept an offer from Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) and leave the club. Add to that the possibility that Benjamin Pavard could also leave the club, and the need for defensive reinforcements in the summer transfer window became imperative. Also, the Upamecano’s up-and-down performances last season often exposed their insecurities.
Munich moved quickly. Even while Kim was in training camp for basic military training, his agent overseas continued to negotiate with Munich and eventually reached an agreement with the club.
There are also high hopes for Kim in Germany. “He does something amazing at least twenty times a game, and despite his lack of experience in the big leagues, he is a relatively complete central defender,” said Kicker, a leading German media outlet. The outlet also pointed out that Kim made 2,547 passes and 1,057 forward passes for Napoli last season, which is higher than Munich’s all-round midfielder Joshua Kimmich.
He also pointed out that Kim doesn’t allow the ball to be broken easily off the dribble. In the UEFA Champions League (UCL) last season, Kim went 550 minutes without allowing an opposing striker to break the dribble, a record only held by Real Madrid’s Antonio Rudiger and Kim. Finally, the outlet also noted that Kim only missed three games last season, so he has less to worry about in terms of injuries than his predecessor, Hernandez.