Manchester United are targeting a central defender in the summer transfer window, with Kalidou Koulibaly on the shortlist, according to The Independent‘s Miguel Delaney.
The Senegalese has long been on United’s radar and club president Aurelio de Laurentiis claimed to have rejected a bid of £95 million (€106m) for the player in 2018.
However, the situation has now changed. Napoli need to cut their wage bill having almost certainly failed to qualify for the Champions League and must face the fact that at 29, it is their last chance to make a significant amount of money on the player.
There are also reports that Koulibaly is unhappy at the club and has asked to leave.
‘The market has dropped a bit due to the Covid-19 crisis, and Napoli are understood to expect any deal to be closer to £70m rather than the £100m they had anticipated a few months ago,’ The Independent’s Miguel Delaney claims, while normally less reliable reporters, such as The Daily Record’s Duncan Castles and The Sun’s Richard Forrester, claim that the price tag has dropped to £64 million.
Di Laurentiis has maintained he has no need to sell, but the reality is that he is a businessman and it is surely the right time for Koulibaly to move on.
United will face stiff opposition from Manchester City for the player’s signature. The Citizens have made a centre-back their top priority this summer and Koulibaly is considered among the finest in the world.
The player himself may prefer to join a club that can offer Champions League football next season, so the outcome of City’s appeal against their UEFA ban and United’s ability to qualify may determine which club he chooses to join.
Also reported to be on the Red Devils’ centre back shortlist are the younger models of Red Bull Leipzig’s Dayot Upamecano, Swansea’s Joe Rodon, Brighton’s Ben White, Benfica’s Ruben Dias and Real Valladolid’s Mohammed Salisu.
Despite the price cut, Koulibaly will still be a significantly more expensive signing than any of the other names on the list, but Delaney believes that United’s priorities may be shifting in the transfer market, which could result in a bigger share of the budget being allocated to the defence.
‘Jadon Sancho has long been the number-one target … but they have also been ruminating on whether to also go for a striker, another central midfielder or a new central defender,’ he writes.
‘Solskjaer is increasingly seeing Mason Greenwood as a potential 20-goal-per-season striker, and ahead of time, which may well affect United’s plans. That would also make a move for a defender more likely.’
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