English Premiership

Manchester City move ahead of Liverpool in Koulibaly pursuit - report

Kalidou Koulibaly (Press Association)
Kalidou Koulibaly (Press Association)

Manchester City have reportedly moved ahead of Liverpool in the race to clinch the signature of Napoli centre-back Kalidou Koulibaly in the off-season.

Koulibaly has earned a reputation as one of Europe's top centre-backs in his six-year stay with Napoli.

Indeed, reports in the past few months have said Liverpool and Manchester City are keen as they look to bolster their defences.

Tuttomercatoweb even claimed Liverpool sporting director Michael Edwards has held 'first contact' talks with Koulibaly. It was reported the Reds wanted him to partner Virgil Van Dijk in what would surely be the most fearsome central defensive tandem in world football.

Liverpool, however, don't look likely to spend big this summer.

Jurgen Klopp has admitted the current climate means the Premier League champions look unlikely to do much business.

He said: "Are there players out there on the market who could help us as well? Probably, yes.

"If we have to and we have the opportunity and we have the financial resources then it will always happen and we will always try.

"But at the moment it's really, really a difficult time.

"This is a difficult year for all football clubs in the world and I don't think it's a time where we talk about transfers like the rest around us did not happen.

"It's just not possible, at least not for us. We cannot do it like this, other clubs maybe can, but this club is [operating] in a specific way.

"This is our way, here we are. Is it the best way? I don't know, but it's ours and we will probably stick to that."

City, however, do have a greater need for a centre-back, given the failure to replace Vincent Kompany last summer.

There is also growing speculation that John Stones could depart. He's due for talks with Pep Guardiola at the end of the season. Our exclusive claimed Arsenal were among his suitors.

Therefore, City need to bring in Koulibaly is an obvious one. As such, The Sun claims they have already made contact with Napoli over a deal.

They claim Guardiola's side have offered Napoli both Nicolas Otamendi and Oleksandr Zinchenko in exchange.

It's reported City believe Napoli's £90m valuation of Koulibaly is too steep. But they hope to bring down the cost by offering them two players in return for the Senegal international.

Guardiola wants to focus on strengthening his defence and finding a regular partner for Aymeric Laporte. He reckons a solid defensive backline will be key to their hopes of wrestling the title back off Liverpool next season.