Liverpool are reported to have held tentative transfer talks with Napoli over a deal for Kalidou Koulibaly as they look to bring the Napoli giant to Anfield as a defensive partner to Virgil van Dijk.
The Senegalese international, 28, has developed into one of the world’s premier centre-halves during his time in Naples.
Colossal performances have seen his name linked with a blockbuster switch to some of Europe’s heavy hitters, with a world record fee for a defender often touted as being required to seal the deal.
That left just a select few clubs with the financial might capable of pulling off such a deal, with one such club being Man Utd.
Koulibaly emerged as a prime candidate to spearhead a new-look defence during Jose Mourinho’s time at Old Trafford, though the club eventually broke the bank to sign Leicester defender Harry Maguire instead.
However, despite Napoli reportedly circulating his name for a deflated £70m asking price, it seems unlikely United will make their move to sign him with their priorities instead focused on deals to sign Jadon Sancho, Jack Grealish and a new striker – for which a big name was linked earlier today.
That has led to speculation linking Koulibaly with a move to Newcastle and Everton, though neither could offer the towering defender the Champions League football, at this moment in time, his status demands.
As such, Tuttomercatoweb claims Liverpool sporting director Michael Edwards has held ‘first contact’ talks to bring Koulibaly to Anfield and partner him up with Van Dijk with what would surely be the most fearsome central defensive tandem in the world game.
As per the Italian outlet, Edwards and boss Jurgen Klopp are growing particularly ‘strong’ to the notion of bringing Koulibaly to the club and believe it would give the Premier League champions-elect the basis to challenge on all fronts in the season ahead.
Senegal star Koulibaly is also good friends with Sadio Mane with the duo teammates on the international scene and believe that could also help their cause.
Koulibaly signing to see Matip sold
The report even claims the arrival of Koulibaly – once the subject of a failed £100m approach from United – will relegate Joel Matip to first reserve and will prompt Liverpool to seek offers for the defender as they strive to recoup some of their huge outlay on Koulibaly.
While the whole report should be treated with an err of caution at this stage, there is no doubt that Klopp and Edwards are looking to bolster their central defensive options this summer, and that the signing of Koulibaly would seriously strengthen their defence.
Koulibaly was arguably the best player on the pitch as Liverpool slipped to a 2-0 Champions League defeat away to the Italians back in September.
The Reds had been chasing a deal for Diego Carlos, but the Brazilian defender has stated his intentions to remain with Sevilla, saying: “I am clear that coming to Sevilla is already taking a very big step.
“If I ever leave Sevilla, it would be to go to a much bigger club, because Sevilla is already a great [club].
When asked if he has received an offer from Liverpool, Carlos said: “So far, my agent does not talk to me about those situations.
“I am not interested to know about other teams.
“I always tell him that, if he is going to tell me something, then it [must] be something firm. He should not come to me with stories, because I must have my head in Sevilla.
“I don’t want those things to cause me a distraction.”
Another man who has caught their eye is Leeds loanee Ben White, though their spies had outlined one key weakness that means an approach now looks unlikely.