Rumours are beginning to mount in Italy that Manchester United are in talks to sign Napoli’s Kalidou Koulibaly.
The 29-year-old is considered one of the world’s best centre-backs and was the subject of an €80 million bid from the Red Devils in 2018, which Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis sensationally turned down.
However, Napoli’s circumstances have now changed. Their finances were not in the best of health before the world pandemic threw football into chaos and their failure to qualify for next season’s Champions League has stretched the budget even further.
It is something of an open secret that the club now needs to sell players and at 29, Koulibaly is one of their most valuable assets and is at an age where it is now or never in terms of cashing in on him.
Various reports claim that Napoli are holding out for €100 million (£90m) for the Senegalese International but in reality, with few clubs in a position to make big money signings, they are probably fully aware that they will not achieve that amount.
Gazzetta dello Sport claims that ‘United have re-launched a bid of up to 70 million euros [£63m] and if there are no other negotiations, eventually Koulibaly will move to England, because that figure cannot be refused as Napoli have to put the accounts in order.’
Unlike the Jadon Sancho situation, which involves a young player and a selling club that is relatively financially healthy, United are in a strong bargaining position when it comes to Koulibaly. The main issue is not whether Napoli will negotiate but that they reportedly face competition for his signature from neighbours Manchester City.
The Citizens recently completed the signing of Bournemouth’s Nathan Ake but are believed to still be interested in Koulibaly despite also having bought the likes of John Stones, Nicholas Otamendi and Aymeric Laporte since Pep Guardiola took over at the Etihad.
For United, the fact that their attempts to sign Sancho from Borussia Dortmund appear to have failed would certainly free up funds to make a bid for Koulibaly, who would represent a sensational and long-overdue signing.