Newcastle believe Manchester United most likely to sign £43m star

Newcastle believe Manchester United most likely to sign £43m star

Newcastle are interested in Napoli’s Serie A winning centre-half Kim Min-Jae but reportedly believe Manchester United are currently leading the race for his signature.

It’s certainly no coincidence that, since Raphael Varane returned ahead of schedule from what was supposed to be a season-ending injury, Erik ten Hag’s Manchester United have conceded just once in his 260 minutes on the pitch.

And that was Joao Felix’s late consolation during last weeks’ 4-1 hammering of Chelsea at Old Trafford.

Finding a replacement – or perhaps an upgrade – for one of the finest and most decorated defenders of the modern era, then, would be easier said than done. But Kim Min-Jae ticks more boxes than most.

SSC Napoli v ACF Fiorentina - Serie A
Photo by Francesco Pecoraro/Getty Images

Labelled the ‘best centre-half in the world’ by departing Napoli boss Luciano Spalletti; Kim combines Varane’s raw defensive talents with the progressiveness and passing range of Lisandro Martinez. In fact, it is difficult to imagine a defender who would fit Ten Hag’s system better.

Kim has even been labelled the ‘Korean Virgil van Dijk’. A testament to his 6ft 3ins frame in his penchant for a raking diagonal.

Will Manchester United beat Newcastle to Kim Min-Jae

According to Fabrizio Romano, Manchester United have been in talks for Kim since October of last year. A reported £43 million release clause expires midway through next month.

Though whether or not United can trigger it before the time runs out may depend on whether or not the Glazers stop dragging their feet and delaying a seemingly endless takeover saga. Sheikh Jassim and Sir Jim Ratcliffe remain hopeful of securing a deal for the Premier League giants.

The Mail say that Newcastle, who finished one place behind Ten Hag’s side in fourth, are also fans of the one-time Everton and Tottenham Hotspur target. There is an acceptance at St James’ Park, however, that Man United are currently ‘leading the chase’.

Eddie Howe’s side will reportedly turn their focus to another Serie A stalwart; Torino’s one-time Ajax youngster Perr Schuurs.

“Kim does at least 20 incredible things per game,” Spalletti says of Kim. “When he starts the run with the ball, he can get it into the opposition penalty area in five seconds flat!

“Kim Min-Jae is the best centre-back in the world right now.”

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