Man Utd Keen to Enter Kalidou Koulibaly Race - But 3 Players May Need to Be Sacrificed

Aug 15, 2020, 4:00 PM GMT+1
Kalidou Koulibaly
Koulibaly is wanted by a number of top European teams | Marco Luzzani/Getty Images

Exclusive - Manchester United are keen to permanently offload Phil Jones, Marcos Rojo and Chris Smalling in the coming weeks so they can fund a move for Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly.

The 29-year-old is widely regarded as one of the best central defenders in the world, and has been strongly linked with a move to neighbourhood rivals Manchester City in recent weeks. Koulibaly has also been touted for a possible move to Chelsea, while reports of a switch to Ligue 1 heavyweights - and Champions League semi-finalists - Paris Saint-Germain have also surfaced.

Kalidou Koulibaly
Koulibaly has been told he can leave Napoli this summer | DeFodi Images/Getty Images

It's been confirmed to 90min that the Senegal international has been given permission by Napoli to move onto pastures new - as they look to conclude a deal for Lille defender Gabriel Magalhaes - and talks have already begun with City over a move to the Etihad.

But United would also like to be involved in the conversation, and 90min understands that moving on Jones, Rojo and Smalling is viewed as one way of financing his hefty wage demands.

Jones is wanted by a number of Premier League clubs - West Ham and Newcastle among the interested parties - while fellow England international Smalling has a number of suitors both at home and abroad following a successful loan spell with Roma, whom he could eventually re-join on a permanent basis.

Phil Jones, Chris Smalling
Jones and Smalling could be sacrificed permanently to make room for further signings | Matthew Ashton - AMA/Getty Images

As for Rojo, he spent the second half of the 2019/20 season at Estudiantes and has many options open to him in South America, despite reoccurring injury problems.

United know that moving all three out on loan is an option, but permanent departures will allow them to fund further moves for players like Koulibaly. His representatives have made it clear that he wants to move to England - despite concerns that he would rather join PSG - and United are once again an attractive proposition after sealing qualification for next season's Champions League.

Koulibaly is also acutely aware that whoever he decides to join are likely to make him their first-choice central defender, and United are planning to partner him up with captain Harry Maguire.

The Red Devils are also continuing to pursue Borussia Dortmund winger Jadon Sancho, and remain confident that a deal can be agreed before the end of the transfer window - despite the Bundesliga giants' claims to the contrary.

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