Kim Min-jae to Man Utd plunged further into doubt as Premier League rivals ‘jump ahead’

Manchester United could have their move for Napoli star Kim Min-jae hijacked as Napoli prepare to sell the South Korean to the highest bidder.

Manchester United’s pursuit of Napoli star Kim Min-jae has hit a snag after it emerged another Premier League club have jumped the queue to try and sign the defender. Reports in Brazil claim that Erik ten Hag’s top target could join Newcastle instead as United face a battle to convince the South Korean to head to Old Trafford this summer, with the Italian outfit keen to sell to the highest bidder.

It has been widely speculated that United were edging closer to agreeing a £52million transfer for the 26-year-old, who has shone in Napoli’s Scudetto-winning side this season with two goals and two assists in 34 appearances.

Kim’s contract with the Partenopei contains a release clause that is valid for the opening weeks of the transfer window before expiring in July, and the Red Devils are expected to step up their efforts by submitting an official offer.

But according to UOL Esporte’s Bruno Andrade, Newcastle are ‘contesting’ United’s interest in the towering centre-back and have ‘taken advantage’ in the race for his signature.

The same report says the former Fenerbahce man will be given the choice to decide his future with Napoli standing firm on their valuation, but it is ‘practically’ a guarantee that Kim will be playing in the Premier League next season, although his final destination is yet to be established.

Ten Hag’s top priorities are to bring in a new centre-back, with Kim lined up as a potential replacement for captain Harry Maguire, whose future remains in doubt at Old Trafford. The 29-year-old could be sold as he has only one year remaining on his current deal, with interest likely from elsewhere in the Premier League.

The Dutchman will have funds to spend after guiding United to a top-four finish, although the amount budgeted for transfers could depend on whether Sheikh Jassim or Sir Jim Ratcliffe is successful in acquiring the club from the Glazers.

Competing with Newcastle – backed by their mega-rich Saudi-based owners – will be a tall order. The Magpies have splashed out over £220m since the Public Investment Fund (PIF) completed their takeover in October 2021 and if they finish above United, Eddie Howe will surely rival Ten Hag for Kim’s signature.

Kim has been coy in publicly discussing his future, although he has recently been reportedly spotted looking at houses in Manchester

He also added fuel to the fire in a recent exchange with South Korean TV at a restaurant while in Naples, hinting at a possible exit from the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona.

When asked about his transfer plans, Kim told tvN, via the Daily Mail: “My agent is outside, ask him directly!”

It also emerged this week that United have ‘enquired’ about Jules Kounde, sparking further speculation that they could abandon their move for the Napoli star.