Kim Min-jae named to Europe’s Best XI for September
Napoli center-back Kim Min-jae’s impressive start to the Serie A season earned him yet another accolade on Thursday, with statistics accumulator WhoScored.com naming him among the best 11 players in Europe for September.
Unlike other monthly Best XIs, which tend to be league-based, WhoScored.com produces a super team compiled from Europe’s top five leagues: the Premier League, Ligue 1, the Bundesliga, Serie A and La Liga.
Napoli’s Kim took the center-back spot for the European squad, alongside Roger Ibanez of Roma with Benjamin Pavard of Bayern Munich at Ramy Bensebaini of Borussia Mönchengladbach rounding off the back four. Yann Sommer, also of Mönchengladbach, took the goalkeeper spot.
The picks for the top midfielders in Europe were Lionel Messi and Neymar of Paris Saint-Germain, Kevin de Bruyne of Manchester City and Joshua Kimmich of Bayern Munich, with Erling Haaland of City and Robert Lewandowski of Barclona out in front.
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 eight of Napoli’s nine games so far this season.
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.
Kim is only the third Korean ever to play in the Italian league, but his career is already off to a stronger start than either of his predecessors — Ahn Jung-hwan and Lee Seung-woo.
BY JIM BULLEY [email@example.com]