Man Utd ‘preparing assault’ to sign £44m star as club hold talks at removal of worrying exit clause

Goalkeeper Alex Meret of Napoli, Minjae Kim of Napoli during the UEFA Champions League match between Ajax and Napoli at Johan Cruijff ArenA on October 4, 2022 in Amsterdam, Netherlands Credit: Alamy
Goalkeeper Alex Meret of Napoli, Minjae Kim of Napoli during the UEFA Champions League match between Ajax and Napoli at Johan Cruijff ArenA on October 4, 2022 in Amsterdam, Netherlands Credit: Alamy

Manchester United are reportedly ready to raise the stakes in their bid to prise a star away from runaway Serie A leaders Napoli.

The Red Devils are upwardly mobile again under Erik ten Hag after their tired squad laboured home sixth last season. However, Tuesday’s 3-0 win over Nottingham Forest has United within a point of Tottenham in fourth. And with a game in hand on Spurs, an astute January window could help United secure a top-four finish.

Having spent well over £200m though in the summer, funds are likely to be a little tighter at Old Trafford this time around. And with phase two of United’s rebuild gathering pace, Ten Hag has made clear his wish to strengthen in attack.

United, of course, this week missed out on the signing of Cody Gakpo, with Liverpool beating them. And while Ten Hag is refusing to be too downbeat, Wednesday’s Transfer Gossip suggests he has two names on his radar.

Further down the line, Ten Hag also hopes to strengthen his defensive options further. This season, Raphael Varane and Lisandro Martinez have established themselves as first-choice centre-back pairing.

But with doubts over the future of Harry Maguire gathering pace, a recent report suggested Tottenham as his most likely suitors.

Were he to leave, however, Ten Hag would want a replacement bringing in. And the one name they are persistently linked with is South Korea defender Kim-min Jae.

The centre-half is enjoying a terrific season with Napoli, who are currently nine points clear the Serie A summit.

However, having arrived in a £15.8m (€18.05m) deal from Fenerbahce over the summer, Napoli put in place a £44m (€50m) exit clause into his contract.

Napoli look to remove Kim exit clause

Now the Serie A leaders are looking to meet with Kim’s representatives in a bid to remove that clause. Wary he could be prised away for a fee lower than his market value, Napoli are looking to remove the clause altogether. And in the process, they hope to secure the 26-year-old to an extended new deal.

The situation is complicated by Manchester United, though, according to Tuttomercatoweb.

The Italian outlet claims the Red Devils are ‘serious’ in their interest in Kim. And they reportedly hope to exploit his exit clause with a firm approach in June. And they claim officials from United are ‘preparing an assault’ on Napoli to prise the defender to the Premier League.

There is interest in Kim too from both Juventus and Inter Milan. However, the clause reportedly only applies for overseas clubs, which would give United an advantage over their rivals.

Tuttomercatoweb also suggests there may be interest too from PSG. But the chase to sign Kim is lead by United who reportedly met with the player’s representatives earlier this month over a potential deal.

Kim, for his part, insists his focus remains on Napoli. And the South Korean has intimated that it is too soon to be talking about a move away.

“There are a lot of market stories around me, but it’s only been six months to Napoli,” said Kim.

“I avoided interviews and one of the reasons is that the rumours about me disturb me.”

And while a January move looks highly unlikely, it’s easy to see why Napoli are eager to remove his exit clause and avoid losing him after just a year in the summer.

READ MOREErik ten Hag responds at missing out to Liverpool for Cody Gakpo as Man Utd boss confirms striker search

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