Manchester United need just one more point to guarantee a top four finish, and are getting in position to strengthen ahead of a likely Champions League campaign next term
A deal to bring Kim Min-jae to Manchester United from Napoli looks all but done.
The South Korea defender has excelled for Napoli this season, winning the Serie A title in his first season in Italy after joining from Fenerbahce. However, with the centre-back said to have a release clause of €65m (£56.5m), United are keen to strike while the iron is hot.
Erik ten Hag is keen to strengthen their squad this summer after victory at Bournemouth took them within touching distance of a top four finish. While reinforcements in attack are a big priority, so is a new centre-back, and Kim appears to be the prime target.
According to Il Mattino (via Sport Witness ), a deal for the 26-year-old is ‘practically done’. The same report suggests United have already found a home for the defender in advance, based in the affluent Alderley Edge – a popular location for footballers.
There were suggestions Kim could be involved in a potential swap deal. However, Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis is said to want cash only rather than a deal involving Victor Lindelof.
Kim has played 33 Serie A games this season to help Napoli win the Scudetto for the first time since 1990. But Luciano Spalletti’s team will now need to find a new starting centre-back for their title defence.
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United can confirm a top-four finish with just a point against Chelsea on Thursday, after their win at Bournemouth was boosted further by Liverpool dropping points at home to Aston Villa. Even if United lose to Frank Lampard’s side, a point at home to Fulham on the final day would also be enough.
Casemiro’s early volley proved the difference as United won at the Vitality Stadium on Saturday. Erik ten Hag’s team had chances to add to the opener, but instead were left relying on David de Gea to keep them in front and make sure of the three points.
“The only criticism is we didn’t kill off the game, we had to produce that second goal but that’s the way this team are,” Ten Hag said. “It is not easy scoring goals.”
He described the struggles as “a symbol” of his team’s campaign. “Nevertheless, we have scored over 100 goals during the season,” he added.
“That’s a lot. But also, we played a lot of games. What we have to improve to score more easily as that makes life easy, because now we have to fight until the end [of games].”
United sit three points ahead of Liverpool with a game in hand, and Jurgen Klopp’s side needed a late Roberto Firmino equaliser against Villa to keep their very slim top four hopes alive. Klopp’s men take on relegated Southampton on the final day of the season, but fourth could already be beyond them by then.