Luicano Spaletti has turned Napoli into one of the most exciting and entertaining teams in Europe. The Naples based club have enjoyed an incredible season having won the Serie A and enjoying an impressive run in the Champions League. Their form has led to a number of Europes top clubs circling on some of their talent. Manchester United are expected to join the party.
With Erik ten Hag’s priority being a striker this summer, United have taken a keen interest in Napoli’s frontman Victor Osimhen but central defender Kim Min-jae is also said to be on United’s radar going into the summer transfer window.
Date of Birth: 15/11/1996 (26)
Position: Central Defender
Strong Foot: Right
Height: 1.90 m (6ft 2in)
Who is Kim Min-jae?Embed from Getty Images
Kim Min-jae joined Napoli from Fenerbahçe in July 2022 and has been an integral part of Napoli’s success this season. Napoli have the best defensive record in the Serie A so far this season having only conceded 23 goals in 34 games and the South Korean has played an instrumental role in that, having started 33 games in the Serie A.
According to Santi Aouna, United have presented their project and financial proposal to Kim Min-jae and the player is keen on a move to Old Trafford. Aouna adds that United will insist in the coming weeks, despite Napoli wanting to extend his contract.
Kim Min-jae has a release clause of slightly less than €50 million which is going to be valid for a few days in July this summer, according to Fabrizio Romano.
Kim Min-jae is a complete defender. He excels in areas required from the modern day centre-half. One of his biggest strengths is his ability on the ball, which is very important for any player in Ten Hag’s system. In the Serie A so far this season, the Napoli defender has averaged 4.97 progressive passes per game and 1.27 progressive carries per 90. His passing is also superb and his passing range is also outstandingEmbed from Getty Images
The former Fenerbahçe defender is also an extremely intelligent player who possesses amazing positional awareness and on the rare occasion when he is caught out of position, his pace helps him recover. In 1v1 situations, Kim Min-jae is particularly remarkable and it’s extremely difficult to get past him. Standing at 6”2, it’s no surprise that the defender is also exceptional in the air. So far this season in the Serie A, he’s won 64% of his aerial duels as well as 61% of his ground duels. Kim Min-jae is aggressive and is also a decent tackler. His impressive ability to read the game also means he’s good at making interceptions.
Most players have at least one relatively significant weakness to their game but Kim Min-jae is an exception to this. He’s quick, fantastic positionally, incredible on the ball, strong and intelligent. He is simply a complete defender and with the defender reportedly having a release clause of around €50m, he will certainly be a bargain for whoever signs him this summer.
Where would Kim Min-Jae fit in Manchester United?Embed from Getty Images
While a new centre-back isn’t necessarily a priority, it’s certainly a position United need to strengthen this summer. Harry Maguire’s United future is in doubt and he could very possibly leave this summer. Victor Lindelof has been in fine form recently but could opt to leave Old Trafford to move to a club where he’ll be a regular starter after attracting interest from Atletico Madrid and Inter in January. Raphael Varane has also not had the best time at United. While there’s no doubting he is a world-class player, the Frenchman has struggled with injuries during his time at Old Trafford. When he does play, he is often very good and his calming presence complements Martinez’s aggressiveness very well, but United certainly need another quality centre-back due to Varane’s availability issues.
While Kim Min-jae is predominantly right-footed, he has been mainly used as a left centre-back by Spaletti. However, Ten Hag would likely use him as a right centre-back should United secure his signature. He could certainly play on the left side with Varane on the right in the absence of Lisandro Martinez but Ten Hag has shown he likes to have a left-footed centre-back on the left and right-footed centre-back on the right – that’s a big part of the reason why Luke Shaw has been moved to centre-back this season when Martinez hasn’t played.
A centre-back pairing of Kim Min-jae and Martinez would be exceptional in possession. Both players are extremely progressive and would massively help United when building out from the back, which has been a struggle at times this season.
VerdictEmbed from Getty Images
Kim Min-jae would be an exceptional signing. The South Korean has everything a defender needs and with a release clause of around €50 million, he would be a bargain. At only 26 years-old, he still has many years left and is only now entering his prime years.
In an ideal world, United’s 4 centre-backs next season could be Lisandro Martinez, Kim Min-jae, Raphael Varane and Victor Lindelof. To win titles, squad depth is crucial and those 4 players are all very good centre-backs.
According to Fabrizio Romao, United have also been scouting OGC Nice defender Jean-Clair Todibo, who has a price tag of around €45 million. It’s also no secret that Erik ten Hag wanted Jurrien Timber last summer and it’s certainly possible that United will make another attempt to sign the Dutch defender this summer.
There are other positions United need to strengthen before they buy a new centre-back but if Harry Maguire or Victor Lindelof, or possibly even both leave this summer, then a new centre-back will be needed.