Manchester United

Manchester United

Premier League • England

Man Utd close in on colossal defender with Ten Hag move to push Liverpool transfer plan into chaos

Kim Min-jae and Krzysztof Piatek

Man Utd remain at the front of the queue to sign Kim Min-jae despite competition from Man City, according to a report that has revealed who Napoli want to replace him.

Napoli signed Kim from Fenerbahce last summer and he has been a revelation in his first season in Serie A. It is about to culminate in him earning a league winner’s medal at the first time of asking in Italy.

However, Napoli might not be able to enjoy Kim playing for them for much longer. They are currently at risk of losing him in July if clubs outside Italy activate his release clause, which is somewhere between €45m and €50m (£39.8m-£44.3m).

According to an update from Calciomercato, Man Utd are in pole position to sign Kim, despite recent competition emerging from their Manchester rivals at City.

United’s interest is said to be the greatest after Kim caught their attention with his performances. After all, there are doubts about the futures of Harry Maguire, Victor Lindelof and Phil Jones.

Man Utd’s starting partnership at centre-back is Raphael Varane and Lisandro Martinez. Those behind them in the pecking order don’t have the same level of trust from Erik ten Hag. Thus, they could leave.

But Man Utd are aiming high in terms of the next defender they will bring in. Indeed, Kim would put immediate pressure on Martinez or the injury-prone Varane for a starting place.

And Man Utd’s chances of signing him have increased after Calciomercato revealed Napoli’s succession plans.

Napoli want Liverpool target to replace Kim Min-jae

Although the Serie A leaders are optimistic of keeping Kim for a second season, their sporting director Cristian Giuntoli is aware that anything could happen.

With that in mind, he has supposedly shortlisted Evan Ndicka as his preferred replacement for Kim. The Frenchman is due to become a free agent in the summer when his contract with Eintracht Frankfurt – whom Napoli knocked out of the Champions League in March – expires.

Back in March, coincidentally, Man Utd were mentioned as possible contenders for Ndicka. However, he has been the subject of more frequent links with Liverpool.

Therefore, a Man Utd bid for Kim could disrupt their two main rivals. Man City would miss out on signing him, while Liverpool could be beaten in their pursuit of Ndicka if Napoli snap him up.

Of course, there are plenty of variables at play before that materialises. Even if Man Utd were to activate Kim’s release clause, he would have to agree to join them.

Then, Napoli would have to fend off plenty of competition to win the race for Ndicka. However, Calciomercato claims they are already in contact for the 23-year-old.

One problem for Napoli is that Ndicka is seeking a salary of €5million per year (around £85,000 per week). The Italians would prefer to accommodate him on a lower salary; after all, they currently pay Kim half that.

Hence, there are a few obstacles to overcome. But Man Utd can certainly take encouragement from the fact that Napoli are preparing themselves for a potential Kim exit.

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