Why Kim Min-Jae would be a good signing for Watford
The 23-year-old, who stands at 6ft 3in with a gigantic frame, has been nicknamed as the ‘Korean van Dijk’ and ‘The Monster’ due to his physical and stylistic resemblance to the Liverpool stalwart. (h/t Watford Observer)
Kim Min-Jae has already earned rave reviews for his impressive displays in the far East and his burgeoning reputation as one of the top centre-backs in Asia has apparently prompted Watford to pursue a keen interest in securing his services.
The Hornets, though, could have their work cut out in ironing out a deal for the South Korean international, as per Watford Observer, who claim that Beijing Guoan might not be interested to do any business with their star player in the upcoming January transfer window, given the AFC Champions League rules.
The AFC Champions League rulebook states that each participating team will only be allowed to register a maximum of four foreign players, out of which at least one must hail from a member nation of the AFC.
Kim Min-Jae currently falls in that quota and Watford might struggle to get a deal over the line for the in-form centre-back in January should Beijing Guoan fail to find an Asian replacement for the 23-year-old.
Born in Tongyeong, South Korea, Kim Min-Jae started his footballing education at Yonsei University before turning professional with third-tier club Gyeongju KHNP, where he spent a couple of seasons prior to earning a move to the top-flight with Jeonbuk Motors.
The centre-back’s impressive rise in his homeland paved the way for a move to the cash-rich Chinese Super League with Beijing Guoan in 2019 and he has made his presence felt in his first season in China.
Beijing Guoan are currently placed 3rd in the standings, just a couple of points behind pace-setters Guangzhou Evergrande, and the 23-year-old has been one of the mainstays of a backline that hold the best defensive record in the division, having shipped a miserly 22 goals in 27 games so far.
Meanwhile, Watford finally picked up their first win of the campaign in the Premier League, as the Hornets beat fellow strugglers Norwich City 2-0 last weekend to climb up to 18th place.
Despite that, however, there was yet another setback for their leaky backline, with Christian Kabasele receiving a second yellow card.
The lacklustre displays of the defensive unit have come under scrutiny for the club’s woeful run of form in the first quarter of the campaign, with Southampton and Norwich City being the only other teams to have shipped more goals than Watford’s tally of 23.
Kabasele has arguably been the pick of a bad bunch at the back for the Hornets, while the likes of Craig Cathcart, Adrian Mariappa, Craig Dawson and Sebastian Prodl have all failed miserably in their attempts to stem the flow of goals.
To that end, it is a no-brainer that manager Quique Sanchez Flores needs to prioritise the recruitment of a new centre-back during the mid-season trading period in January in a bid to shore up the club’s porous and vulnerable backline.
Plus, with Mariappa and Prodl nearing the twilight of their careers at 33 and 32 respectively, Flores would be wise enough to freshen up his defensive unit with some much-needed fresh blood.
With that in mind, Kim Min-Jae certainly fits the bill as a player in the right age bracket. Notwithstanding the fact that his success in China doesn’t guarantee the same in the highly-competitive atmosphere of the Premier League, the Korean still has a lot of time to make significant adjustments to his game in order to make the transition.
As well as his success in China, the 23-year-old has also established himself as a regular fixture in the South Korean national team setup, with his tally of 24 senior international caps indicative of his rapid development and obvious quality.
The Korean’s lack of previous experience in Europe makes him a slightly risky proposition for Watford, who are currently languishing at the bottom of the table, but Kim Min-Jae has shown enough promise and he certainly looks like a fine young defender capable of making the grade on the English shores in due course of time.
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That said, Watford playing a gamble on the South Korean international could pay off handsomely for them in the years to come.