S. Korean defender Kim Min-jae nominated for Ballon d’Or award

South Korean center back Kim Min-jae has been nominated for the prestigious Ballon d'Or award.

France Football magazine unveiled the 30 nominees for the annual award recognizing the best in football Wednesday (local time), and Kim, who now plays for Bayern Munich after enjoying a successful 2022-2023 campaign with Napoli, is the only Asian candidate.

Kim emerged as one of Europe's top defenders in his lone season with Napoli. He helped the club win its first Serie A title in 33 years in May and was named the top Italian league's best defender for the season in June.

He parlayed that success into a summer transfer to the German giants Bayern Munich.

Fellow South Korean international Son Heung-min holds the mark for the highest position by an Asian player in Ballon d'Or voting, as he finished 11th last year. Son grabbed the Premier League Golden Boot in May 2022 after netting a career-high 23 goals for Tottenham Hotspur.

Argentine star Lionel Messi, who lifted his country to the FIFA World Cup title in December, is among the favorites to win this award. He has won a record seven Ballon d'Or awards so far.

Manchester City talisman Erling Haaland had more success at the club level. The Norwegian striker won the Premier League Golden Boot with a league record 36 goals in 35 matches. He had 52 goals in 52 appearances in all competitions, as Man City completed a treble by winning the Premier League, FA Cup and the UEFA Champions League titles.

The award winner will be announced at a ceremony in Paris on Oct. 30.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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