Kim Min-jae rejected Napoli’s offer to remove his buyout. Now, numerous clubs are keeping an eye on him.
On July 12 (KST), Napoli’s local newspaper ‘Napoli Magazine’ quoted Italian daily ‘La Repubblica’ as saying, “Kim Min-jae has repeatedly refused to remove the release clause from his contract. Now all that remains is the question of which club will pay the 58 million euros (about 804 million won) for the South Korean defender between July 1 and 15.”
It’s been a season for Kim Min-jae. He joined Napoli this season for €18.05 million (approximately KRW 25 billion) and immediately made his mark on the Italian game without much of an acclimatization period. His trademark combination of strong physicality and football intelligence in front of him, as well as his man-to-man marking and covering at the back, have been his trademarks.
Napoli’s success was largely due to Kim Min-jae. Napoli won their first Serie A title in 33 years after a dominant campaign that saw them concede the fewest goals in the league (28) throughout the season. They also made history in the UEFA Champions League (UCL), reaching the quarterfinals for the first time ever.
Recognized by all. Kim was named Serie A Player of the Month in September, Italian Footballers’ Association Player of the Month in October, and European Sports Media (ESM) Team of the Month four times. He was also named the best defender of the 2022-23 season and the team of the season by the Serie A secretariat.
Napoli also wanted to keep Kim Min-jae. Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis has made it clear that the club will not allow any of its main players to leave the club, saying, “No one will leave unless we decide to sell.”
However, Kim has a release clause. The buyout, which takes effect on July 1, is said to be worth around €50 million.
Napoli also tried to get rid of it. It has been on the table since last winter to negotiate a new contract that would remove the release clause. However, Kim Min-jae’s side continued to reject it. According to Italian journalist Giovanni Scotto of Il Roma, all attempts by president Laurentiis and Napoli president Cristiano Giuntoli were unsuccessful.
Now, everything is in Kim’s hands. The club that is currently ahead of the pack is Manchester United. The Red Devils have built a formidable center-back combination of Rafael Varane and Lisandro Martinez this season, but a lack of central defense depth has plagued them in the middle of the season. With the signing of Kim Min-Jae, the Red Devils plan to address this issue once and for all.
An Italian journalist who predicted Kim’s departure to Napoli was also convinced. “After discussions with his agents, United offered him a multi-year contract worth 7 million euros (about 9.7 billion won) per season, and Kim is shaking as he prepares to say ‘yes,'” said Daniele Longo, a reporter for Italy’s Calcio Mercato.
However, United is not the only team chasing Kim. “Newcastle, Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) and Chelsea want to play a dirty trick on United for Kim Min-jae,” France’s Foot Mercato reported on December 12.
Newcastle are luring Kim with money and a place in the UCL. Newcastle, who have conceded the fewest goals in the league this season (33), are looking to shore up their defense with the signing of Kim Min-jae.
The same goes for PSG. According to Foot Mercato, Kim is prioritizing the Premier League, but PSG president Luis Campos is not ruling out a deal.안전놀이터
Chelsea is less likely than the first two clubs. The Blues already have enough resources at center back, and they won’t even be in the UCL next season.
For now, United still has the upper hand. However, as Foot Mercato notes, “for now, nothing has been done about Kim’s future,” so we won’t know until early July, when his buyout takes effect.