The “monster” was sitting on the ergometer when it received the first humorous comment. Minjae Kim, 26, had just arrived at FC Bayern’s training camp at Tegernsee this week and was cycling easily in the fitness tent next to the grass field when Joshua Kimmich, 28, greeted him.
Kim is the most expensive addition to the record German soccer champions this summer. Munich transferred 50 million euros to SSC Napoli for the South Korean – gave him a contract until 2028.
The club introduced him to Munich on Friday afternoon, before that Kim received a pair of leather pants with his initials from FC Bayern and learned the word “Servus”. The 1.90 meter tall professional just won the Italian championship with his former club and was voted the best defender in Serie A. He intensifies the competition in the Bavarian defense enormously. There might be hardships.
His physical and robust playing style earned him the nickname “Monster”. “I like him,” Kim said. “He sums up my positive qualities as a defender.” Kim has had “Carpe diem” tattooed on his chest. Tegernsee showed how happy coach Thomas Tuchel, 49, is about the transfer. He hugged Kim and said, “I’m so glad. You’ll do well and love it, I promise.” Kim will wear the number 3 shirt at Bayern, which Paul Breitner once wore.
Kim was Tuchel’s dream player after Lucas Hernández, 27, surprisingly switched to Paris St. Germain for 45 million euros two weeks ago. “In the talks with the club, it was made clear to me from the start how great the interest in me is. My first goal is to play a lot of games,” Kim said. “In addition, I want to win as many titles as possible.”
The Bayern bosses praise his mentality and speed, the CEO Jan-Christian Dreesen, 55, describes Kim as one of the best defenders in the world. The highly acclaimed player has made 49 appearances for the national team and reached the round of 16 with South Korea at the World Cup in Qatar last December.
Matthijs de Ligt, 23, was one of the few Munich players to impress in Bayern’s chaotic pre-season, which ended with just one title. He should be set in defence. Dayot Upamecano, 24, however, made several mistakes and the Frenchman is now fighting for his place. Benjamin Pavard, 27, would like to leave Bayern, and he will probably change by 2024 at the latest.
To make it to the Munich world club, Kim had to walk a difficult path. He grew up in the port city of Tongyeong, which was repeatedly threatened by typhoons. His parents ran a small sushi restaurant there. Kim’s father took the talented boy to his first U-17 international in the restaurant’s fish truck. Kim is said to have dropped out of college to earn money as a professional. Supposedly also to support the parents financially.
Kim signed his first contract at the age of 19 with Gyeongju KHNP FC in South Korea’s third division. He then moved to top-flight club Jeonbuk, with whom he won the league twice before moving on to Beijing Guoan in China. In 2021 he moved to Fenerbahce Istanbul for three million euros.
Just a year later, Napoli bought him for six times the price and included an exit clause in his contract, which Bayern now used. Before taking up his duties in Munich, Kim had to do the military service in his home country, which is shortened for sports stars. “He has an unusual career behind him,” said Tuchel. “It shows that he has fought his way through.”
Kim’s first big trip with his new club is scheduled for next week: Bayern will fly to Asia on Monday. As part of a PR tour, they will play friendlies in Japan and Singapore against Liverpool FC and Manchester City. Kyle Walker, 33, could soon join the team. The full-back is said to have informed coach Pep Guardiola at City this week that he wants to switch to Bayern. After Kim and Raphaël Guerreiro, 29, from Borussia Dortmund, it would be the third defense addition.