By Yoo Jee-ho
SEOUL, June 3 (Yonhap) -- Capping off his memorable first season in Italy, Napoli's South Korean center back Kim Min-jae has been named Serie A's best defender of the 2022-2023 campaign and made the league's Team of the Season.
Serie A announced its season-end winners of individual honors on its website Friday (local time). The league chose the top players in the following categories: under-23, goalkeeper, defender, midfielder and striker. The awards were based on statistical analysis and a review of positional data, among others.
Kim beat out his Napoli teammate Giovanni Di Lorenzo and Theo Hernandez of AC Milan for the top defender award. Kim is the first Asian player to be so honored.
Naturally, Kim was also named to Serie A's top starting XI of the season, joined by Di Lorenzo, Hernandez and Gleison Bremer of Juventus on the backline.
The Serie A Team of the Season was selected by voting by fans (50 percent) and by media (50 percent).
In his first season in Italy following stints in South Korea, China and Turkey, Kim helped Napoli win their first Serie A title in 33 years with five matches to spare. With a rare combination of speed, skills and physical play, Kim quickly established himself as the rock of the league's stingiest defense.
Kim was named the Serie A Player of the Month for September and then the Player of the Month for October as chosen by the Italian Footballers' Association.
With one match remaining this season, Napoli have conceded the fewest goals in Serie A with 28 in 37 matches.