Tottenham missed out on ‘monster’ after refusing to up measly £5m bid

Tottenham squandered the chance to sign Napoli central defender Kim Min-jae for around £10million during Jose Mourinho’s time at the club – a decision they are now living to regret. The South Korea international was one of the best defenders in the group stages at the World Cup having also shone in both Serie A and the Champions League respectively this season.

Replacing Kalidou Koulibaly was never going to be easy for Napoli but somehow, they have ended up signing an upgrade on the Senegal international following his summer transfer to Chelsea.

The centre-back earned a WhoScored rating of 8.7 in midweek as Napoli ran out 2-0 winners in the Champions League last 16 at Eintracht Frankfurt.

Now Manchester United are said to have been alerted to the player’s performances as they consider a potential swoop for Min-jae, who could replace Harry Maguire.

While his drastic rise to prominence has come as a surprise, ex-Tottenham boss Mourinho knew Min-jae – nicknamed ‘The Monster’ during his time in the Chinese Super League with Beijing Guoan – had the potential to be special during his time in north London.

The 26-year-old, who has racked up 47 caps for his country, was available for around £10m during the summer of 2021 but Tottenham bypassed the chance to sign the defender as he moved to Turkey with Fenerbahce.

Mourinho discussed the near miss earlier in the season, claiming if he had it his way, Min-jae would have joined Tottenham.

“I can tell you a story about one of their players. I spoke to him on FaceTime and wanted to buy him at Tottenham, but Tottenham didn’t help me,” said Mourinho.

“The player cost ten million, Tottenham offered five. A deal could be done for seven or eight, but at that time Tottenham couldn’t spend money.

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“I spoke to the lad two or three times via FaceTime, he really wanted to come, but he couldn’t come. And now he’s that ‘rubbish’ defender who plays there, Kim.”

Min-jae, who was also the subject of a bid from Rennes last summer, excelled in the Turkish Super Lig before earning his high-profile transfer to Napoli.

Now he is a fundamental part of their title bid and is of equal importance as Victor Osimhen and Khvicha Kvaratskhelia, who are both grabbing the headlines every time Napoli record another victory.

Min-jae’s £16.25m is now thought to have tripled following his outstanding displays in Naples and according to his adviser Ho Lee, there were a host of other clubs interested last summer including Spurs, who still couldn’t make amends for their previous failings.

“Inter, Juventus, Tottenham, Rennes and Roma have tried to sign Kim, and many clubs have held meetings on video,” Lee said (via Sport Witness).

“But we wanted Kim to be able to play in a good team with a certain continuity and that team was Napoli.”

Unfortunately for Tottenham, Min-jae would have been perfect for Spurs, who are in desperate need of some new defenders, and not only in football terms.

The commercial opportunities and rewards of having both Kim and fellow South Korea international team-mate Son Heung-min in the same team would have been a game-changer for the north London club, who have now attracted a huge Korean fan base.

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