Manchester United’s hopes of buying Napoli’s Kalidou Koulibaly were boosted significantly yesterday after the Italian side announced the signing of striker Victor Osimhen.
Napoli’s extrovert president Aurelio de Laurentiis broke the news on social media, tweeting ‘Welcome Victor’ yesterday afternoon.
The €80 million (£72m) transfer of Osimhen from Lille will almost certainly be funded by the sale of players and Koulibaly is widely expected to be among those departing in the shake-up.
The centre-back is the most valuable player on Napoli’s books and is also the highest paid, earning £193,000 per week. At 29 years of age, it is a case of now or never for de Laurentiis in terms of cashing in on his prize asset.
Whilst the president has insisted that the club do not need to sell in order to buy, their failure to secure Champions League football this season coupled with the effects of the pandemic means it is inevitable that there will be departures.
Referring to United’s 2018 bid for the Senegalese international, in October de Laurentiis told Sky Sport Italia ‘I loved Koulibaly the man so I refused €105million, but a time will come when I’ll have to sell him.’
And yesterday he named his price, telling the same outlet‘Kalidou is an excellent boy and I will be very sad if he leaves, but the cycles are over and everything has its time. So far, no one has put €90 million (£81m) on the table and it takes two to close the deal.’
United face stiff competition for the player. Neighbours Manchester City are front runners for his signature despite having already agreed a £41 million fee with Bournemouth for another centre-back, Nathan Aké.
The big man would be a very popular acquisition at Old Trafford. In a recent online poll, 72% of United fans said they would prefer to sign Koulibaly than Jack Grealish, Donny van de Beek or Sergej Milinkovic-Savic.