As negotiations continue in their chase for Raphael Varane, it looks like Manchester United have also expressed interest in Napoli’s Kalidou Koulibaly as a potential alternative.
According to Gazetta.it, United have made contact with the Senagalese 30 year-old’s agent, Fali Ramadani, and offered around £26 million.
The Italian club suffered losses of over £17 million due to the Coronavirus pandemic and would likely need to sell before they could spend any substantial fee.
Koulibaly is Napoli’s highest earner, on over £5 million net annually, and moving him on would save the club nearly £20 million in wage budget for the remainder of his contract.
But, the club’s chairman, Aurelio De Laurentiis, is still determined to hold out for as high a fee as possible for Koulibaly, and reports suggest that United’s offer was rejected.
The towering defender has racked up almost 300 appearances for Napoli since joining from Genk.
Two seasons ago, he was one of the most in-demand centre-backs in world football with United and Manchester City linked, among others.
His stock has fallen slightly since, but his strength, experience, and leadership would still complement most defences.
In the case of United’s interest, it may be that the Reds have made an approach, firstly, to prepare the ground for a potential backup option to Real Madrid’s Varane, and secondly, to also put pressure on Madrid to accept a fee.
It has been reported that Madrid’s infamous president, Florentino Perez is holding out for up to £56 million, a figure that United will hope to reduce over the coming weeks of negotiation.
If Varane does indeed want to experience a new challenge in the Premier League, however, Perez will likely be eager to sell now, as next summer Varane can leave for free at the end of his contract.
But if the Frenchman stays in the Spanish capital with a new contract, United will then consider escalating interest further in Koulibaly.