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Manchester United favourites to sign Kalidou Koulibaly from Napoli: report

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Kalidou Koulibaly

Manchester United are leading the race to sign Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly, a report from Italian outlet La Repubblica claims.

The Senegal international has been linked with a Premier League move over the past four years but a deal has never materialised with club chairman Aurelio de Laurentiis being reluctant to sanction his departure.

However, it appears that the centre-back could head through the exit door during the next transfer window, particularly if the Serie A side are unable to qualify for next season’s Champions League.

Manchester United, Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain have been earmarked as the main contenders for Koulibaly’s signature but the former are said to hold the advantage over their European rivals.

The Red Devils reportedly failed with a club-record £95m bid for Koulibaly when Jose Mourinho was their manager in 2018 but La Repubblica suggests that they could sign him for around £74m this summer.

United strengthened their central defence last summer with the purchase of Harry Maguire and the 26-year-old has been a regular starter alongside Victor Lindelof.

The duo have looked solid as the central defensive pairing as the season has progressed but United are still said to prioritise the signing of another player for the position, as per Sky Sports‘ James Cooper.

Koulibaly, who is nearly 29, does not quite fit into Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s requirements for young and prime-age players but Evening Standard has previously revealed that the Norwegian remains a huge admirer of the Senegalese.

As such, a move could be on the cards at the end of the campaign but that may coincide with the departure of at least one central defender presently in the United squad.

Eric Bailly, Axel Tuanzebe and Phil Jones are the back-up central defensive options at the manager’s disposal while Chris Smalling is currently out on loan with AS Roma.

Jones appears the most likely candidate to part ways with United and he could be joined by Smalling, who may be reluctant to remain with the club unless he is assured regular playing time.