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Napoli, Kim Min-jae clinch Italian football title

By Yonhap

Published : May 5, 2023 - 10:03

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Kim Min-jae of Napoli celebrates with fans after the club clinched the Serie A title following a 1-1 draw against Udinese at Dacia Arena in Udine, Italy, on Thursday. (Reuters -Yonhap) Kim Min-jae of Napoli celebrates with fans after the club clinched the Serie A title following a 1-1 draw against Udinese at Dacia Arena in Udine, Italy, on Thursday. (Reuters -Yonhap)

Featuring South Korean defender Kim Min-jae, Napoli have captured their first Italian football title in 33 years.

Napoli secured the one point they needed for the Serie A crown with a 1-1 draw against Udinese at Dacia Arena in Udine, Italy, on Thursday.

By improving to 80 points on 25 wins, five draws and three losses, Napoli extended their lead over second-place Lazio to 16 points and clinched the top spot in the Italian competition with five matches to spare.

Kim, a rock of a center back, played a major role in Napoli's championship run in his first season in Italy. He is the third South Korean player to win a top-division title in one of the five major European leagues -- England, Spain, Germany, Italy and France -- after former Manchester United midfielder Park Ji-sung, who won four Premier League titles, and former Bayern Munich attacker Jeong Woo-yeong, the 2018-2019 Bundesliga champion.

Kim has started in 32 of Napoli's 33 matches so far. And he hit the ground running in the new league, after Napoli acquired him to fill a huge hole on their backline after the departure of star center back Kalidou Koulibaly to Chelsea. Kim earned the Serie A Player of the Month award for September. He was the first Asian player to be so honored in the Italian league. Then for October, Kim was named the Player of the Month by the Italian Footballers' Association.

With Kim manning the defense, Napoli have so far conceded the fewest goals in the league with 23.

A successful first season in Serie A has generated a ton of transfer speculation around Kim, who has been linked to everyone from Manchester United to Paris Saint-Germain to Tottenham Hotspur, which feature fellow South Korean star Son Heung-min.

This is Napoli's third Serie A title and first since 1990, with the late legend Diego Maradona in the fold.

Napoli had won their first title three years earlier. But following those glory years, Napoli suffered through financial trouble and even got relegated to the third division as recently as 2006.

Victor Osimhen scored the equalizer for Napoli in the 52nd, after Udinese had opened the scoring in the 13th minute courtesy of Sandi Lovric. (Yonhap)