Criticism has emerged that Napoli’s buyout clause in the Kim Min-jae deal was too small.
Italian outlet Area Napoli recently highlighted comments made by Gennaro Monturi, a former manager of Napoli’s stadium, Curva B, and now a journalist, about Kim’s transfer.
“Monturi said, ‘People are laughing at Napoli,'” Area Napoli reported, adding that Monturi expressed his disappointment with Kim’s transfer.
Until two years ago, Kim was playing in the Chinese league. A year earlier, he was playing in one of Europe’s marginalized leagues, the Turkkiye. In the 2021/22 season with Fenerbahçe, he was hailed as one of the best defenders in the Turkiye Super Lig, with his physicality, speed, and defense crushing opposing attackers. Not only did Fenerbahçe, but the entire league, go crazy for Kim as a defender who will go down in history.
However, when he moved to Napoli in the Italian Serie A, one of Europe’s top five leagues, there were questions about how he would fare against stronger teams and stronger players. However, Kim proved his worth with his performance. At first, he was seen as a signing to fill the void left by Kalidou Koulibaly’s departure to Chelsea, but he quickly won the hearts of the Napoli public with his stellar performances, even surpassing Koulibaly.
In his first season with the club, there was no adjustment period, as he was immediately thrust into the first-team center back role, where he and partner Amir Rahmani anchored the Napoli backline. Kim showed his dominance in the air, his pace, and his ability to build up well. He was the perfect fit for then Napoli coach Luciano Spalletti’s style of play, as he was an offensive-minded defender.
Kim made 35 league appearances, 30 of them full-time. A mere substitute for his predecessor Kalidou Koulibaly, Minjae seamlessly filled the void and dominated the Italian scene within a year. Even the most powerful attackers were no match for him. Shutting down the league’s top strikers, Kim was named the league’s best defender in the Italian league, the home of defensive football, and was named to the team of the year alongside teammates Giovanni Di Lorenzo, Hvitsa Kvarachelia, and Victor Osimhen.
Kim’s performance helped Napoli lift the league title for the first time in 33 years, since the 1989/90 season when club legend Diego Maradona played. They also won the UEFA Champions League. They topped their group and made it to the round of 16 after a tricky group stage that included the likes of Liverpool and Ajax. Although they were knocked out in the quarterfinals by AC Milan, it was a successful season for the club as they reached the highest point in their history.
With so many teams interested, Kim’s price tag skyrocketed. From a €3 million ($4.2 billion) transfer from Beijing Guoan to Fenerbahçe, Kim’s performances at Fenerbahçe led to a €20 million ($28.3 billion) move to Napoli. With his performances at Napoli, his price tag soared to 60 million euros ($85.7 billion) according to Transfermarkt, which covers the European soccer transfer market.
A number of teams were in the running for Kim Min-jae. Premier League giants Manchester City and Manchester United, as well as Newcastle United, Paris Saint-Germain, and Bayern Munich were among those interested.
Munich went to great lengths to convince Kim, even conducting medicals in South Korea, and after reaching a personal agreement with Kim, they paid the €50 million ($71.4 billion) buyout set by Napoli to keep him. His value was so high that it was said that the buyout made it possible to acquire him for less than his original value.
In the midst of this, Monturi once expressed regret over Kim’s buyout, and it seems that Kim’s value will be evaluated even higher.
“Napoli managed to keep most of their best players in this summer’s transfer window. Victor Osimhen, Hvitsa Kvarachelia, and even Stanislav Lobotka. The one exception was Kim Min-jae. His deal included a relatively low buyout.”
As reported by Area Napoli, Monturi criticized Napoli’s inclusion of a buyout clause, saying, “President Aurelio De Laurentiis did not have the foresight to buy Kim Min-jae. Why did he put such a low clause on the player’s value? Everyone is laughing at Napoli for losing a very strong and decisive player for very little money.”
Monturi is not the only one reacting to Napoli’s recent absence. “Giovanni Improtta, who has played for Napoli in the past, claimed that Kim’s absence exposed weaknesses that were masked,” according to Italian outlet Il Napoli Online.
“Napoli did not do many things right against Lazio. Unfortunately, they are struggling on the counterattack,” explaining that “these weaknesses were already there under Spalletti, which Kim hid with his athleticism and speed, but now they are on full display.”
Meanwhile, Kim was recently recognized for his best performance last season with a Ballon d’Or nomination from France Football. 안전놀이터
On July 7, France Football, the French soccer organization that organizes the Ballon d’Or, announced the 30 finalists for the 2023 Ballon d’Or, and Kim was the only Asian player on the list.
L’Equipe outlined the reasons behind Kim’s nomination, saying, “Kim Min-jae was selected as one of the 30 finalists for the Ballon d’Or because he made his predecessor Kalidou Koulibaly forget with his aerial prowess and first-time build-ups at Napoli before joining Bayern Munich this summer.”
While many Napoli insiders are still reacting to the parting of the ways with Kim, if Kim continues to perform well for Munich this season, the disappointment of the buyout mistake will only grow.