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Leeds United star to replace league’s best defender after becoming top target for title winners

Robin Koch and Diego Llorente of Leeds

Leeds United defender Robin Koch could join a title-winning side as his next destination, following a colleague to a new league, a reporter has revealed.

Koch looks almost certain to leave Leeds this summer, judging by the number of different claims about where he could end up next. He joined the club after their promotion to the Premier League and seems unlikely to stick around now they have dropped back into the Championship.

Besides, there is only one year remaining on Koch’s contract at Elland Road, so it is probably time for Leeds to start thinking about selling him.

Recently, it was revealed that Koch would reject the opportunity to join Man Utd or Newcastle, either of whom would have enabled him to step straight back up to the Premier League. Instead, the Germany international is seeking a destination where he will be able to play more regularly.

There have been links with a return to the Bundesliga, where he could join either Bayer Leverkusen or Eintracht Frankfurt. But now, a new option has emerged for Koch, thanks to a different transfer in the German top flight.

According to Sky Sport Italia journalist Francesco Modugno, Koch has been identified as a top target for Serie A side Napoli, who are about to sell Kim Min-jae to Bayern Munich.

Kim was named the best defender in Serie A after helping Napoli to win the league title in his debut season with the club. However, a release clause is about to become active in his contract.

For a while, it looked like Man Utd would be the ones to activate it. However, Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich have overtaken them in the race and are all set to confirm Kim’s arrival in the first half of July.

Koch could replace Kim but Napoli have alternative

Napoli will need to find a replacement for Kim. According to Modugno, Koch is at the top of their shortlist, despite never playing in Serie A before himself.

Interestingly, Leeds are also in negotiations to send another defensive signing from 2020 to Serie A. Indeed, Roma are trying to keep Diego Llorente on another loan deal after he spent the last six months of the 2022-23 season with them.

Koch could also be on his way to Italy if Napoli are able to fend off the competition from back in his homeland. If not, their alternative answer might come from the Bundesliga itself.

Indeed, the second main option Napoli are considering would be Ko Itakura. Formerly owned by Manchester City, without ever making a senior appearance for them, the Japan international is currently playing for Borussia Monchengladbach.

It is not yet clear how much money Napoli might have to pay to sign Koch, but it would almost certainly be less than what they will be receiving for Kim.

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