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Spurs: Fabio Paratici must move for Kim Min-jae

Tottenham Hotspur have been heavily linked with South Korean centre-back Kim Min-jae over the past few years, with The Mirror reporting back in 2021 that Antonio Conte’s side were keen on a move for the centre-back in the summer of 2020, before once again considering a move for the 26-year-old in the January transfer window the following year.

Spurs were once again linked with the defender last summer, however, following the Korean’s ultimate £16m move to Napoli, the centre-back’s advisor, Ho Lee, revealed that Min-jae decided against a switch to the Premier League side in favour of one to the Diego Armando Maradona Stadium as a result of the Serie A outfit offering him guaranteed game time.

In comments cited by TEAMtalk, Lee said:

Inter Milan, Juventus, Tottenham, Stade Rennais and AS Roma have tried to sign Kim, and many clubs have held meetings on video. But we wanted Kim to be able to play in a good team with a certain continuity, and that team was Napoli.”

However, with Gianluca Di Marzio revealing back in September that the defender possesses a €50m (£43m) release clause that will become active in the summer of 2023, Fabio Paratici could well be presented with a third chance to land the 26-year-old – something that, considering his performances so far this season, would appear highly advisable for the Italian.

Indeed, over his 14 Serie A appearances in the current campaign, the £30m-rated centre-back has been a rock in the heart of Luciano Spalletti’s backline, helping his side keep five clean sheets, as well as making an average of 1.6 tackles, 1.1 interceptions, 3.9 clearances and winning 4.9 duels – at a success rate of 62% – per game.

The £53k-per-week talent has also contributed going forwards, having already hit the back of the net on two occasions, in addition to making an average of 0.4 key passes, playing 3.5 long balls and completing 66.1 total passes – at a success rate of 90% – per match.

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These returns have seen the six-foot-three stopper who is nicknamed “the Monster” and Spalletti dubbed a “champion” average a simply sensational Sofascore match rating of 7.22, not only ranking him as Gli Azzurri’s sixth-best performer in the league but also as the 21st-best player in the top flight of Italian football as a whole.

Furthermore, despite South Korea’s 4-1 demolition by Brazil in the World Cup on Monday evening – a fixture in which co-commentator Ally McCoist dubbed Min-jae’s performance as “not acceptable” – the 26-year-old’s metrics from the round of 16 loss were actually far from disastrous.

Indeed, over his 90 minutes on the pitch, the centre-back made one tackle, two interceptions, three clearances and won all five of his duels – a success rate of 100% – as well as enjoying 77 touches of the ball, finding his man with two of his three long balls and completing 65 of his 69 attempted passes – at a success rate of 94%, the fourth-best of any player from either side.

As such, despite South Korea’s and Min-Jae’s unceremonious exit from Qatar, it would still appear an extremely wise move for Paratici to launch a bid for the former Fenerbahce star next summer, as the centre-back has more than proven his true ability in Napoli’s backline so far this season – with the defender looking to be a make addition to Conte’s current options at the back.