Man Utd edge closer to £52m transfer coup with Arsenal set to benefit
Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta reviews the Brighton game
Manchester United have received a welcome boost in their pursuit of Napoli defender Kim Min-jae, who is reportedly set to be replaced by a former Arsenal defender before the start of next season. The Red Devils are said to be keen admirers of Kim, who has turned plenty of heads with his impressive form in Italy to help Napoli clinch the Serie A title for the first time since 1990.
Kim is thought to have been earmarked as the player United want to become their first summer signing when the bidding opens later this year, with Erik ten Hag eager to strengthen his defensive ranks by activating the South Korea international’s £52million release clause. It seems as though Arsenal could also be set to benefit from the move if it goes ahead over the coming weeks, with LondonWorld reporting that Napoli have identified former Gunners defender Konstantinos Mavropanos as Kim’s long-term replacement.
It is claimed that Mavropanos has already been ‘lined up’ by Napoli in advance of next season, although his current focus will be to help preserve Stuttgart’s status in the Bundesliga as they battle to avoid relegation to Germany’s second tier. They only signed Mavropanos on a permanent basis last summer following two season-long loan spells at the club but could be poised to lose him in the not-too-distant future if Napoli manage to tempt them with a suitable offer before the new campaign gets underway.
Stuttgart are believed to value Mavropanos at around £25m, which would see Arsenal pick up a chunk of any transfer fee given the presence of a sell-on clause that was inserted into the deal which saw him join the Bundesliga strugglers nearly a year ago. The move would also pave the way for Kim to join United, which would get the Red Devils off to a promising start in terms of their summer recruitment drive before the Premier League resumes in August.
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It had recently been claimed that Napoli were willing to enter into talks with Kim over a new and improved contract in Italy, but everything now appears to be pointing to an exit at the end of the season in order for him to pursue a new challenge in the Premier League. It remains to be seen whether United will be able to win the race for his signature in the not-too-distant future, with Liverpool and Tottenham having also been linked, although they are seemingly in pole position to snap him up ahead of their divisional rivals as things stand.
The 26-year-old was recently given the ultimate compliment by Napoli boss Luciano Spalletti, who labelled him the best defender on the planet and underlined his impressive physical qualities after their victory over Atalanta in Serie A back in March. He told DAZN: “Kim does at least 20 incredible things per game. For me, he truly is the best centre-back in the world. When he starts to run, he can get into the opposition penalty area in five seconds flat.”
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Meanwhile, there remains a chance that Kim could turn down the opportunity to test himself in the Premier League in order to continue with Napoli, where he remains contracted until the summer of 2025. He was quick to play down the speculation over his future when quizzed on the prospect of a move back in December, but only time will tell if his mind will eventually change as United continue to step up their efforts to finalise his capture.
“There are a lot of transfer stories around me, but I’ve only been at Napoli for six months,” he told You Quiz on the Block. “I’ve avoided interviews, and one of the reasons is that the rumours about me disturb me.”
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