Reports that Manchester United have made an €80 million (£71.5m) bid for Napoli’s Kalidou Koulibaly emerged from Italy yesterday.
The Daily Star references a report from football-italia.net which claims it was announced on Sky Sport Italia last night, although Sky’s own website does not contain a report of the news.
The Red Devils reportedly had a €120 million (£94m at the time) bid for the Senegalese defender turned down in 2018.
And whilst Koulibaly is without doubt still of interest to United, there are four reasons to doubt that the club would have come back in with an €80 million bid at this stage.
First, having been thwarted in their attempts to sign Koulibaly, the club subsequently shelled out £80 million for Harry Maguire last summer. It seems unlikely that another huge transfer fee would be earmarked for another centre back at this stage.
Second, Koulibaly is now 28 years old. Whilst that is not old for a centre back, he would surely be worth much less now than he was in 2018 when he was 26.
Third, given also that United’s priority this summer is to sign a right winger, with Jadon Sancho the top target, a huge bid for a player in a position where there is plenty of cover – Eric Bailly and Axel Tuanzebe for example – seems improbable.
Fourth, football’s financial meltdown due to the coronavirus crisis means it is highly unlikely that any club would offer that kind of an amount for any defender, even one who is world class.
Le Parisien recently claimed that ‘The Napoli defender, whose market value fluctuates between €50 and €70 million (£44-£62m), must continue his career in England where his name is widely linked with Manchester United’.
This seems much more plausible.
If there is any truth to the rumour that United have made a bid, it is unthinkable that they would pitch in with an €80 million opening bid for a player who is valued at €50 – €70 million. Something in the region of half that amount would be far more likely.
Today’s reports claim that Napoli have refused the €80 million bid and are holding out for closer to €100 million, which also seems improbable in the current circumstances.
Stranger things have happened, of course, and any fan would be excited at the prospect of seeing a player of Koulibaly’s class in a Manchester United shirt. But as things stand, it is hard to imagine that there is much truth to this particular transfer rumour.
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