Exclusive – Manchester City remain hopeful of sealing a move for Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly, but are reluctant to be drawn into a bidding war.
The 29-year-old has carved out a reputation as one of the very best centre-backs in the world over the past few seasons, making close to 250 appearances for Gli Azzurri since signing in 2014.
He has long been linked with a move away from the Stadio San Paolo, with Liverpool, Manchester United and countless others pursuing him in previous transfer windows.
Now, though, the centre-back appears most likely to end up at City, who have been on the lookout for defensive reinforcements for some time. They have already poached Nathan Aké from relegated Bournemouth and want one more addition to complement their current options.
Koulibaly is their top target, though a source has told 90min that City do not want the transfer saga to drag out much longer. The Cityzens do not like being drawn into protracted, head-to-head battles for players but are desperate to get their man.
Although City’s interest is strong, they are likely to face significant competition to sign the Senegal international. Chelsea and Paris Saint-Germain are both sniffing around and 90min reported earlier this month that United could make a play for the defender if they manage to sell both Phil Jones and Chris Smalling.
Reports that Paris is Koulibaly’s preferred location are overstated. Sources close to the player have told 90min that he is open about his future – as long as his new side are Champions League contenders.
So far, no team has come close to meeting Napoli’s £70m valuation, though this could change soon. If Koulibaly does end up at the Etihad Stadium, he will become City’s sixth signing of the window, after the aforementioned Aké, Pablo Moreno, Yan Couto, Issa Kaboré and Ferran Torres.