Man Utd suffer blow in ‘three-way war’ for Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly

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Manchester United skipper Harry Maguire is one of the first names on Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s team-sheet, with the former Leicester City man enjoying a far more solid second season at Old Trafford. 

However, the England international has arguably been let down by the quality of partner provided for him – with the jury still out on both Eric Bailly and Victor Lindelof, both guilty of some nervy defending, with the former also often plagued with injuries. 

It is for this reason Solskjaer seems desperate to strengthen his side defensively, with a number of central defenders linked with a move to the red half of Manchester. 

Villarreal centre-back Pau Torres has long been a target for the Red Devils, and United will get a close-up look at the 24-year-old when the pair meet in the Europa League final this month after Unai Emery knocked out United’s Premier League rivals Arsenal to meet them in the final in Gdansk, Poland. 

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Another name that is often linked with a move to Manchester is Napoli star Kalidou Koulibaly, who has a lengthy list of potential suitors that include Manchester City, Juventus and Barcelona as well as United. 

Just last summer it appeared as if Pep Guardiola’s City side had won the race for the defender’s signature, but the deal was scuppered at the last minute and City opted for former Benfica centre-back Ruben Dias – an inspired decision, with Dias a favourite for PFA player of the year. 

Koulibaly is contracted with Napoli until the summer of 2023, meaning the Serie A outfit are hardly in a position where they are forced to cash in on one of their prized possessions. 

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However, in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, Napoli have reportedly been hit harder than most and now may be willing to part ways with the Senegalese defender for a fraction of the price they were originally asking for. 

Barcelona appear to have been the first European giant to notice that and with their own financial situation looking particularly bleak by their standards, it is unlikely they will get a better chance to bring Koulibaly to the Camp Nou. 

Though United are more likely to bring Koulibaly to Manchester than City, if Barca’s interest is concrete, the 29-year-old may favour a stint in La Liga. 

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Koulibaly already has good relations with former Barcelona technical director Eric Abidal, who was reportedly a huge fan of the defender.  

Approaching 30, Koulibaly knows he is unlikely to have more than one more big move in him, so all eyes are on him as he deliberates between England, Spain or remaining in Italy, where he has been since 2014. 

Napoli currently sit fifth in Serie A, just two points off of fourth spot as they gear up for a dramatic showdown in the race for Champions League qualification.

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