By Yoon Seungjin
Photo = FC Bayern Munich’s official website
“Monster defender” Kim Min-jae has officially joined FC Bayern Munich, last season’s champions of Germany’s top pro soccer league Bundesliga.
The team’s official webpage on July 19 confirmed Kim’s signing in an article, saying, “The 26-year-old South Korean international joins from Napoli (Italy) on a five-year contract until 30 June 2028.”
He will wear No. 3 for his new club as he did for Napoli.
Reports say Bayern paid Napoli a transfer fee of EUR 50 million (KRW 71.5 billion) and Kim’s annual salary is around EUR 12 million (KRW 17.2 billion).
The transfer fee is a record high for an Asian player in Europe, surpassing the EUR 30 million (KRW 42.9 billion) paid in 2015 by Tottenham Hotspur of the English Premier League to pry away striker Son Heung-min from Bayer Leverkusen.
Kim is expected to oversee central defense with Dutch center back Matthijs de Ligt, who joined the team last season, in replacing Lucas Hernandez, who moved to Paris Saint-Germain in his home country of France.
Entering a top European league in summer last year by moving to Napoli from the Turkish club Fenerbahce, Kim quickly made an impact in southern Italy. He helped the club win its first Serie A title in 33 years and reach the UEFA Champions League quarterfinals.
“FC Bayern is a dream for every footballer. I’m really looking forward to what’s to come in Munich. It’s a new beginning for me. I’ll continue to develop here. In discussions with the club, it was made clear to me from the start how interested they are in me,” he said in the article.
“My first goal is to play a lot of games. In addition, I want to win as many trophies as possible.”