If the word on the street is to be believed, Manchester United are in talks to reserve the services of Kalidou Koulibaly. After signing Nathan Ake from Bournemouth, Manchester City are still looking to sign a right-footed center-back as Nicolas Otamendi and Fernandinho become less future proof.
The Senegalese international is without a doubt one of the best center-backs available in the market right now. United had previously made an €80 million offer for Koulibaly in 2018, only to see it get rejected by Aurelio De Laurentiis, the club’s president.
Manchester United have been following the 29-year old centre back for quite a long time now, but the Italian club’s demands have always been the problem. However, the financial circumstances at Naples have taken a turn for the worse since they last rejected United’s offer. Furthermore, the pandemic has further degraded their monetary situation and all of this combined with the failure to qualify for the Champions League next season have put them in a situation wherein the Reds seem to be in the driving seat of the deal.
According to Gazzetta Dello Sport, Napoli still want around €100m for Koulibaly. United are ready to reignite their interest, but their limit is the €70m they have put on the table.
Even though Napoli president Aurelio Di Laurentiis does not want to let Koulibaly leave on the cheap, he is aware of a mutual desire between player and selling club to move on.
In fact, Napoli’s chief has recently made a remark, stating – “Kalidou is a great person, I would be terribly sad to lose him. But there is a time for everything, even to move apart.”
Therefore, the Italian newspaper says Napoli may have to accept United’s €70m bid if no further talks take place. It’s a figure that “cannot be refused”, according to Gazzetta.
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.
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 neighbors Man City.
City are looking forward to closing in on the Senegalese center-back as well to whom they would be willing to offer a ‘substantial’ salary. Pep Guardiola’s side have struggled in the defense this season after club captain Vincent Kompany departed. Guardiola openly said that academy graduate Eric Garcia is also forcing a move away to Barcelona. It makes more sense for them to flush the money for Koilubaly.
The report from Gazzetta says nothing of their interest, though. That would potentially leave United as the sole suitor for the French-born defender.