Manchester United face world record fee to land top target defender

Napoli’s highly-rated Kalidou Koulibaly is also being tracked by Barcelona and Real Madrid

Manchester United may have to smash their own transfer record in order to shore up their defence this summer.

Bosses at Old Trafford have identified the team’s back line as in need of a boost for some time, but have previously failed in their efforts to land targets such as Leicetsre’s Harry Maguire.

With the prospect of a squad overhaul under a new manager this summer – whether or not caretaker Ole Gunnar Solksjaer is handed the job full-time – there is a determination not to miss out again.

Their top target for central defence is now Napoli’s Kalidou Koulibaly, who was recently ranked by FFT as one of the 10 best defenders in the world.

Barcelona, Real Madrid and Chelsea are also said to be among the team hoping to pry 27-year-old Koulibaly away from Italy, though United are believed to be the frontrunners for the Senegalese international’s signature.

Napoli bosses have recognised the appetite for their star man, however, and have slapped a €150 million price tag on the centre-back, reports Gazzetta dello Sport – around £130 million.

This would smash the world record for a defender – set last January when Liverpol paid £75 million for Virgil van Dijk – as well as Manchester United’s own transfer record, the £89 million they paid for Paul Pogba in 2016.

The cost may not deter the Reds, though: they previously broke the transfer record for a defender in 2002 when they splashed out £30 million for Rio Ferdinand, who went on to play over 300 Premier League games for the club.