Liverpool, Tottenham have ‘advantage’ over Man Utd in race to sign £43m Serie A defender

Lewis Oldham
Man Utd target Min-jae

Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur are reportedly ahead of Man Utd in the race to sign centre-back Kim Min-jae from Serie A leaders Napoli.

The South Korea international joined Napoli last summer from Fenerbache. Tottenham wanted him but he ended up moving to the Italian side for £15m as a replacement for Chelsea’s Kalidou Koulibaly.

Min-jae has been superb for Napoli this season as he has established himself as one of the leading centre-backs in the world.

Man Utd have been heavily linked with him in recent months. Premier League clubs could get themselves a bargain this summer as there is a £43m release clause in the 26-year-old’s contract.

Ben Jacobs is reporting that Liverpool and Tottenham are also interested in the defender.

They hold an “advantage” over Man Utd as the presence of Lisandro Martinez and Raphael Varane could mean that his game time would be limited.

“Clubs looking at centre backs will inevitably be scouting Kim Min-jae,” Jacobs told TEAMtalk.

“[Napoli boss] Luciano Spalletti has already termed him ‘one of the best centre-backs in the world’ and you only have to look at his form and intelligence and awareness to understand why and there are Premier League clubs looking for sure.

“Manchester United are in a difficult position with that type of player because he sees himself as a starting centre-back and they’ve obviously got Martinez and Varane there. But there’s other teams that are looking to drop somebody straight into their starting lineup.

“Tottenham are another club that have scouted the player and they would be looking to bring in a starting centre-back, as with Liverpool as well.

“And I think that would give those two clubs a slight advantage over Manchester United, because if Erik ten Hag is going to play a back four and Varane and Martinez are fit, then it becomes extremely difficult to persuade a player in the form and with the potential of Kim Min-jae to go to Old Trafford over those two other clubs. Especially when you consider that he’s not an 18-year-old.

“He’s 26 years of age, so he will want regular and immediate game time. The other thing to point out in all of this is just that he only joined Napoli in July. So as a consequence, he’s played less than 35 games for the club at the time of recording.”

Jacobs adds that Min-jae’s current contract does not expire until 2025 but Napoli are “trying to change the terms and get an extension” which does not include a relatively low release clause.

Napoli have the option to automatically extend Min-jae’s deal by a further two years but Jacobs notes that “a 26-year-old in great form like Kim might be seen as reasonable value for just over £40m.”

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