Manchester United’s priority for the January transfer window has clear for some time now, not least because of Jose Mourinho making no secret of it.
The Red Devils boss wants a top centre-back to tighten his defence having watched his side concede 26 goals in 16 Premier League outings.
He was left disappointed by United’s failure to lure Toby Alderweireld, Milan Skriniar or Harry Maguire to Old Trafford in the summer, while also suggesting it showed a decline in their ability to attract big signings.
“The transfer market is very difficult unless the clubs want to go to what I call crazy numbers,” Mourinho said, per the Evening Standard.
“You have no chance in the market unless you go to crazy numbers, or instead you go to what you call the second level players and still have crazy numbers. But that second level is the level people say, and I agree, that’s not what Manchester United is.”
United have spent upwards of £415 million since the Portuguese tactician was appointed in the lead-up to the 2016-17 season, so it’s difficult to argue they can’t compete financially.
With that in mind, Ed Woodward can reasonably expect him to request another marquee arrival midway through the campaign.
And it seems Mourinho’s well-publicised admiration for Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly might actually be leading somewhere promising if the Times’ latest report proves true.
The newspaper claims senior United officials have met with the Serie A club to discuss a potential January transfer - a meeting which at the least gave an indication of his price tag.
As expected, Napoli would require the Red Devils to part with £90 million for a player whom owner Aurelio De Laurentiis considers a vital member of the current squad.
However, Koulibaly “is understood to have encouraged Mourinho’s interest” despite agreeing on fresh terms with his current employers only last summer.
It’s an interesting claim given the Senegal international is contracted to the Stadio San Paolo outfit until 2023.
Whether or not Koulibaly’s desire to trade Naples for Manchester is genuine, here’s how the United faithful have reacted to the prospective world-record recruit…
Reflecting on how Mourinho’s other big purchases have fared, it’s little wonder fans are split over investing so much in Koulibaly, irrespective of his unquestionable quality.
Rather sensibly, though, United are also planning a list of alternatives including Eder Militao of FC Porto - a player more in line with Woodward’s penchant for developing youth.
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