Of the 30 finalists for the 2023 Ballon d’Or, only three were defenders. South Korea national soccer team defender Kim Min-jae (Bayern Munich) was one of them, and the highest-ranked defender.
Kim was ranked 22nd in the Ballon d’Or rankings, which were voted on by 100 journalists from around the world on Nov. 31. He was ranked higher than fellow nominees Ousmane Dias (30th) and Joshko Gvardiol (25th – Manchester City), proving his worth as one of Europe’s top defenders.
Kim realized his dream of playing in a big European league last season when he joined Napoli (Italy). He quickly became a regular center back and helped Napoli reach the top of Serie A for the first time in 33 years with his ironclad defense. It was Napoli’s first title since the days of Diego Maradona. Kim also became the first Asian player to be named Serie A’s official best defender last season.
He has since become a household name, attracting 스포츠토토 numerous offers from big clubs, and is currently playing for Bayern Munich in the German Bundesliga this season.
He is the fifth South Korean player to be nominated for the Ballon d’Or. Previously, Seol Ki-hyun (Anderlecht in 2002), Park Ji-sung (Manchester United in 2005), and Son Heung-min (Tottenham in 2019-2022) were nominated. The highest ranking is 11th for Son, who became the first Asian player to win the English Premier League’s top scorer in the 2021-2022 season.