Update On Manchester United’s Pursuit Of This Serie A Defender: What Should Be Solskjaer’s Play?

Koulibaly agrees personal terms with Manchester City (Koulibaly is seen in the photo)
Nicolò Zaniolo of AS Roma vies with Kalidou Koulibaly of SSC Napoli during the Serie A match between SSC Napoli and AS Roma at Stadio San Paolo on July 05, 2020 in Naples, Italy. (Photo by Francesco Pecoraro/Getty Images)

In a recent report, the Evening Standard provided an update on Manchester United’s pursuit of Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly this summer. The same source has mentioned that the Senegalese centre-back’s price-tag could rule the Red Devils out of a summer move, especially when they are prepared to break the bank to sign Borussia Dortmund’s Jadon Sancho.

Koulibaly’s Dominant Season At The San Paolo Stadium

The France-born talent produced a series of commanding performances at the heart of Gennaro Gattuso’s backline on his way to enjoying another solid campaign in Italy. He featured in 33 matches for Napoli last season, picking up eight cautions and one red card in the process shedding some light on his disciplinary worries at Naples. He has also been unavailable for several games over the past ten months because of frequent injuries which have disrupted his progress under Gattuso.

Koulibaly has found a run of consistency and has done well to average 2.1 tackles, 1.3 interceptions and 2.9 clearances per 90 minutes in the Serie A and the UEFA Champions League. He has taken care of the ball well when distributing it as evident from his pass completion rate of 91.4% in league football (stats via whoscored).

The 29-year-old led Senegal to a second-place finish in the last edition of the African Cup of Nations. He has participated in 33 senior matches for the Senegalese national side, finding the back of the net once for his country thus far.

Update on Manchester United's pursuit of Kalidou Koulibaly who is seen in the photo
Justin Kluivert of AS Roma vies with Kalidou Koulibaly of SSC Napoli during the Serie A match between SSC Napoli and AS Roma at Stadio San Paolo on July 05, 2020, in Naples, Italy. (Photo by Francesco Pecoraro/Getty Images)

What Are The Senegal International’s Best Attributes?

Koulibaly is proficient at using his pace and strength to make a few essential interceptions and last-ditch clearances inside his penalty box. He is often quick to snuff out the danger at the back and can be a dominant presence at both ends of the field, which makes him such an integral member of the Napoli first XI.

The Senegalese centre-back was born to lead and can organise his defence well so that they can maintain a solid defensive shape throughout the 90 minutes. However, his poor run with injuries recently is a slight cause for concern for any of his potential suitors, including the Red Devils ahead of the new season.

What Should Be Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Play Here?

If Man United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer decides to break the bank on bringing Sancho to Old Trafford, then it is likely that he won’t have enough left in his transfer kitty to sign someone like Koulibaly, who would command a significant sum in terms of a transfer fee this summer.

Hence, Solskjaer should consider going for a cheaper defensive option if he wants to strengthen his squad even further before the start of the new campaign. Plus, Koulibaly is 29 at the moment. Therefore, he will serve as a short-term solution to their defensive problems at the Theatre of Dreams. All in all, it makes sense for the Red Devils to drop their interest in the Napoli centre-back for now and maybe revisit the possibility of signing him only if he is available for the right price in the future.

A 26-year-old sports writer and an aspiring football coach who has road-tripped across the Scottish Highlands, but has never been to Wales. Sucker for cliff-hangers and catchy riffs. Known to be a grunger and not to be a stranger.