Kim Min-jae, who became the first Asian defender to be nominated for the Ballon d’Or, has also been ranked among the favorites to win the award.
On Aug. 8 (KST), he was ranked No. 20 in Goal.com’s top 20 power rankings.
“Kim kept 18 clean sheets as Napoli won the Serie A title last season,” the publication said, adding, “Kim proved to be one of the best signings of the summer of 2022. He helped Napoli end their painful wait for the Scudetto.”
“While Napoli’s star strikers have received most of the praise, Kim’s impact cannot be underestimated. He is the perfect modern defender. His combination of skill and physicality was the driving force behind Napoli’s title run.”
“If South Korea had made it past the round of 16 at the World Cup, his ranking would have been even higher.”
Kim Min-jae made the list of 30 candidates for the 2023 Ballon d’Or announced by France Football, the organization of the award, on Sunday.
He is the fourth South Korean player to be nominated. Starting with Seol Ki-hyun (Anderlecht) in 2002, Park Ji-sung (Manchester United, 2005) and Son Heung-min (Tottenham Hotspur, 2019-2022) have been nominated for the Ballon d’Or. Of these, Son is the highest-ranked Asian player ever, having finished 11th last year.
Only three of the Ballon d’Or nominees are defenders, including Kim Min-jae, Yossouko Gvardiol, and Ousmane Dias. Kim is the only other defender in the top 20 of the Power Rankings.
After joining Napoli from Turkkiye Fenerbahçe ahead of last season, Kim defied expectations that he would need to adjust to life in the big leagues in his first year and flourished as Napoli’s main defender. His strong physicality, defensive intelligence, and blistering speed allowed him to dominate Serie A attackers and lead Napoli to their first Serie A title in 33 years. At the end of the season, Kim was recognized for his performance by being named Serie A’s best defender, ahead of Giovanni DiLorenzo and Theo Hernandez. Kim also played a crucial role in Napoli’s UEFA Champions League quarterfinal run, the club’s best ever. 먹튀검증
It wasn’t just Napoli where Kim Min-jae shined in the 2022-23 season. An integral part of the South Korean national team, Kim was also a standout at the FIFA World Cup 2022 in Qatar last November. Despite missing their third group game against Portugal due to injury, South Korea advanced to the round of 16 on the back of Kim’s steady defense.
The only other defender to ever win the Ballon d’Or was Fabio Cannavaro in 2006. Cannavaro captivated voters by leading Italy to the top of the standings at that year’s World Cup in Germany.
At the top of the power rankings is Lionel Messi (Paris Saint-Germain-Argentina). Messi had a breakout year last season, leading Paris Saint-Germain to the Ligue 1 title and helping Argentina to the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. Elling Holland (Manchester City-Norway) was second, followed by Kylian Mbappe (Paris Saint-Germain-France) in third.