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Newcastle United 'hold talks with agent of Manchester United-linked Kim Min-jae'

Newcastle 'hold talks with agent of Man United-linked Kim'
© Reuters
Newcastle United are rivalling Manchester United for Napoli centre-back Kim Min-jae, according to a report.

Newcastle United reportedly held discussions with a representative of Napoli centre-back Kim Min-jae towards the end of the 2022-23 campaign, with the Magpies in the race for his signature.

The 26-year-old was in excellent form for Napoli during the recent season, featuring on 45 occasions in all competitions, scoring twice and registering two goals in the process.

Kim featured on 35 occasions in his side's Serie A title-winning campaign, while he also played a key role in the run to the quarter-finals of the Champions League, making nine appearances in the competition.

The South Korea international has another two years left to run on his contract, but there is believed to be a £42m release clause which kicks in at the start of July.

Manchester United are thought to be in pole position to sign the centre-back, with Red Devils head coach Erik ten Hag said to want him as a replacement for Harry Maguire.

Napoli's Kim Min-jae pictured on November 12, 2022© Reuters

However, Maguire is allegedly leaning towards staying at Old Trafford this summer, which would make it difficult for the 20-time English champions to bring in another central defender.

According to The Sun, Newcastle are battling the Red Devils for Kim, and the Magpies held talks with the defender's representatives towards the end of the 2022-23 season.

The report claims that Newcastle head coach Eddie Howe wants another central defender this summer despite the performances of Fabian Schar and Sven Botman during the recent campaign.

Despite the recent speculation, Napoli insiders are said to be expecting Kim to complete a move to Old Trafford next month.

Napoli's Kim Min-jae in action with AC Milan's Junior Messias in September 2022© Reuters

The South Korean made the move to Napoli from Fenerbahce last summer, while he has also played for Gyeongju KHNP, Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors and Beijing Guoan during his professional career.

Raphael Varane and Lisandro Martinez formed an impressive partnership at Man United for the majority of the 2022-23 campaign, but the latter missed the end of the campaign with a fractured metatarsal.

Victor Lindelof was therefore a regular in the latter stages of the season, and the Sweden international is now expected to stay at Old Trafford this summer despite suggestions that he could depart.

According to a recent report in CalcioNapoli24, Kim has already said his goodbyes to his Napoli teammates, as he is expecting to move on before the start of pre-season training.

Phil Jones is leaving Man United on a free transfer at the end of this month, while fellow defenders Axel Tuanzebe, Eric Bailly, Brandon Williams and Alex Telles are also set to depart this summer.

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