Kim Min-jae is set to become the first Asian defender to win the Ballon d’Or, with speculations suggesting he could surpass Son Heung-min.
German professional soccer player Kim Min-jae, who plays for Bayern Munich in the Bundesliga, is among the 30 nominees for the Ballon d’Or, the world’s most prestigious soccer award.
France Football, the French soccer publication that organizes the Ballon d’Or, announced the 30 nominees for this year’s Ballon d’Or on July 7 (KST).
Among the nominees is Kim Min-jae, who joined Bayern Munich this season.
Kim is the fourth South Korean player to be nominated for the Ballon d’Or after Seol Ki-hyun, who played in the Belgian league in 2002, Park Ji-sung, who played for Manchester United in England in 2005, and Son Heung-min (Tottenham) in 2019 and 2022.
Son received four fifth-place votes from voters in 2019, placing him 22nd out of 30 nominees with four points, and in 2021, he finished 11th in the Ballon d’Or final, the highest ranking for an Asian player, after finishing as the English Premier League (EPL)’s joint top scorer (23 goals).
Kim Min-jae is the first Asian defender ever to be nominated for the Ballon d’Or.
Japanese midfielder Hidetoshi Nakata was nominated three times (1998-1999-2001), while Iraqi striker Younis Mahmoud was nominated in 2007.
This year, Kim Min-jae is the only Asian player among the 30 nominees.
Kim joins Lionel Messi (Inter Miami, Argentina), Eling Holland (Manchester City, Norway), Antoine Griezmann (Atletico Madrid, France), and Harry Kane (Bayern Munich, England) on the Ballon d’Or list, Robert Lewandowski (Barcelona-Poland), Kylian Mbappe (Paris Saint-Germain-France), Vinicius Junior (Real Madrid-Brazil), Jude Bellingham (Real Madrid-England), and Luka Modric (Real Madrid-Croatia).
Only three defenders were nominated, namely, Hubeng Dias (Manchester City-Portugal), Josko Gvardiol (Manchester City-Croatia) and Kim Min-jae.
Cristiano Ronaldo (Alnasr-Portugal), who is second all-time in number of awards (five) behind Messi (seven), did not make it into the top 30 this time around.
Son Heung-min’s name is also missing from the Ballon d’Or nominations.
Kim Min-jae, who has shown remarkable growth every year, was nominated for the Ballon d’Or.
After making a name for himself with the K League’s Jeonbuk Hyundai, Kim made his way to Europe with Beijing Guoan (China) and then Fenerbahçe (Turkey) in 2021.
A stalwart defender, Kim was at the top of his game for Napoli (Italy) last season, winning the Serie A Best Defender award, and ahead of this season, he joined Bayern Munich for the highest transfer fee ever for an Asian player (€50 million-$71.5 billion).
It will be interesting to see if Kim can break Son Heung-min’s record of 11th place as the highest-ranked Asian player to win the Ballon d’Or.
The last defender to win the 먹튀검증토토사이트 Ballon d’Or was Fabio Cannavaro (Italy) in 2006.
The winner will be announced on the 30th of next month.