Napoli of the Italian Serie A are keeping an eye on Kim Ji-soo (19-Seongnam FC). Kim is the starting central defender for South Korea at the FIFA U-20 World Cup 2023.
“Kim Ji-Soo is likely to head to Brentford (England) in the summer transfer window, but we can’t rule out an attempt to sign him,” Italian soccer outlet Napoli Calcio Live reported.
In the UEFA league rankings, England are first and Italy fourth. But unlike Brentford, who have never competed in a European club competition in their 133 years of existence, Napoli are ranked 19th in Europe.
Kim Ji-soo joined Bayern Munich (Germany) in January and has been rumored to join Sporting (Portugal) and Brentford since May. Munich is ranked second in the European club rankings and Sporting is ranked 33rd.
“Napoli Calcio Live” reported that “the importance of Asian soccer is growing among club officials,” raising the possibility that Brentford could push ahead with the deal without regard to the competition ahead of them.
The success of “monster defender” Kim Min-jae, 27, is one of the reasons Napoli have turned their attention to Asia, particularly South Korea. He averaged 87.5 minutes per game in 34 Serie A games in 2022-23, helping Napoli return to the top flight after a 33-year absence.
Last summer, Kim signed a new contract with Napoli until the 2024-25 season for a record transfer fee of €18.05 million (approx. KRW 256 billion) from 12th-ranked Fenerbahçe. He was named the Italian Football Federation’s Monthly MVP in September 2022 and the Italian Professional Footballers’ Association’s Monthly MVP in October.
Napoli advanced to the quarterfinals of the UEFA Champions League for the first time in its 96-year history and climbed six spots in the European rankings. Kim increased his value as a center back in the world’s top club competition, making seven consecutive full-time and nine starts. 메이저놀이터
‘Napoli Calcio Live’ said, “Kim Ji-soo is young and can be brought in at a lower transfer fee (than European players of similar skill). He also has good physical attributes (including a height of 192 centimeters). Above all, a replacement for Kim Min-jae is desperately needed.”
According to Corriere dello Sport, one of Italy’s top three sports newspapers, Napoli’s contract with Kim has a buyout clause worth 50 million to 80 million euros ($70.8 billion to $113.3 billion) that applies only to foreign clubs for two weeks from July 1, 2023.
The buyout clause reads, “Any team based outside of Italy that offers Napoli €50 million to €80 million by July 14 of this year will have priority negotiating rights to Kim Min-jae.
“English Premier League (EPL) teams such as Manchester United and Newcastle are willing to trigger the buyout clause, and another Korean defender could follow in the footsteps of (the outgoing) Kim Min-jae,” Napoli Calcio Live reported.
South Korea pulled off an upset on Sunday (Sept. 23) in their first game of Group F at the 2023 U-20 World Cup, beating eventual champions France 2-1. Kim Ji-soo played the entire game at center back to help secure the win.
It’s not surprising that Napoli isn’t the only powerhouse team interested in Kim after the U-20 World Cup. Seongnam of the South Korean K League 2 also reportedly wouldn’t block the player’s move to Europe if he wanted to.