Manchester City have ramped up their interest in Napoli centre-back Kim Min-jae as they look to bring him in this summer, according to reports.
The South Korea international could potentially be brought in as a replacement for Aymeric Laporte, who is being linked with a switch to Barcelona.
Min-jae certainly has the quality to slot into Pep Guardiola’s starting XI, but Man City will face competition for the defender’s signature.
Indeed, as reported by the Sun, the Cityzens are joined by Man Utd, Liverpool and Tottenham in their pursuit of Min-jae, who has impressed in Serie A this season.
In 30 league appearances for Napoli, the ‘monster’ centre-back has helped his team to 15 clean sheets, as well as scoring two goals and making two assists in the process.
Now, Napoli sit 17 points clear at the top of the table and are well on their way to their first title since 1990, back when Diego Maradona captained the Italian giants.
With that in mind, it’s no surprise to see Man City pushing hard to sign Min-jae this summer, who has a relatively low release clause of £40m in his current deal.
Laporte tipped to join Barcelona
The timing of Man City’s interest in Min-jae becoming public is rather convenient, given Laporte is also being linked with a departure.
As noted in reports coming out of Spain, the 28-year-old is ‘unhappy’ at the Etihad after struggling for consistent playing time under Guardiola this term.
Laporte has made just eight appearances in the Premier League this season, significantly less than the 33 he made in the previous campaign.
In addition, the defender allegedly ‘dreams’ of playing for Barcelona one day, so would jump at the opportunity to sign for the Catalans.
As a result, it seems logical that Guardiola is planning ahead and wants to replace Laporte with Min-jae – who is a younger and arguably better player.
The only problem with Barcelona’s pursuit of Laporte, though, is whether they will have the funds necessary to complete the deal.
The Spanish giants, currently managed by Guardiola’s former player Xavi, are in the midst of a financial crisis.
As a result, the majority of Barca’s transfer business is expected to be limited to signing out-of-contract players – with the club currently being linked with moves for Lionel Messi, Ilkay Gundogan and Roberto Firmino.
Laporte, however, is under contract at the Etihad until 2025, so the Catalans would have to pay a fee to secure his services. Unless, of course, Guardiola does his former club a favour and sends him out on loan.
The Spanish defender is reportedly willing to take a pay cut to make the move happen, though, so we could see Man City replace Laporte with Min-jae this summer.