Manchester United is willing to pay £53 million for Napoli defender Kim Min-Jae, who might be a replacement for Harry Maguire.
Maguire, 30, is now Erik ten Hag’s fifth-choice center-back, having spent the majority of the season on the bench while his teammates thrive. Despite Ten Hag’s public support for the England international, there are reports from Old Trafford that United would be willing to transfer Maguire this summer in order to reclaim some of the £80 million they paid Leicester for him in 2019.
In that event, the Red Devils would almost surely want to sign a new center-back to replace Maguire, which is where Kim comes in. According to the Italian newspaper Corriere dello Sport, United is willing to pay the €60 million (£53 million) required to trigger the South Korean’s release clause.
Kim, 26, joined Naples from Turkish giants Fenerbahce last summer for about £17 million and has made an immediate impression. His commanding performances helped Napoli win their first Serie A title in 33 years with five games to spare, but Kim has also made headlines off the field, and not for the good.
Following a 2-1 setback to Uruguay in March, the South Korean international shocked his native country when he admitted that he wanted to focus on finishing the season strongly with Napoli. “I’m mentally tired, and I only want to focus on my club at the moment, not the national team,” a disgruntled Kim revealed.
After his statements were misconstrued in South Korea, the 26-year-old was obliged to apologize. “I apologize to them and the players who were taken aback by my words,” Kim said. “I had a minor injury that I recovered from.” I’ve played a lot of games, and I’ve never spared myself. I experienced a mental breakdown and an outburst. I apologize once more and ask the fans to continue to support us.”
He’s had no reason to apologize in Naples, where he performed above and beyond expectations to help Luciano Spalletti’s team win the league and reach the Champions League quarter-finals. Kim has more than properly replaced Kalidou Koulibaly, who elected to leave Napoli after nine years last July and go for Chelsea, where he has struggled. Kim has a great 91% passing accuracy and an average of 1.5 tackles every 90 minutes.
Kim, who is still United’s club captain, could possibly succeed Maguire during the summer transfer window. Ten Hag loves Raphael Varane and Lisandro Martinez as his regular center-back pairing, but with both now injured and Maguire available, the Red Devils manager has found Victor Lindelof and Luke Shaw – typically a left-back – to be his next-best combo.