Napoli defender ‘close’ to five-year deal and £42m move after Newcastle United ‘talks’

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Newcastle United are eyeing reinforcements as they prepare to compete in next season’s Champions League

Newcastle United have held talks with Napoli defender Kim Min-jae but Premier League rivals Manchester United are the leading contenders to sign the player.

The 26-year-old is available for £42m from July 1 when a release clause becomes active in his Napoli contract.

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The Sun reports the player’s representatives held talks with the Newcastle hierarchy towards the end of last season as they seek to bolster their options ahead of their first campaign in the Champions League for 20 years.

Eddie Howe is keen to add more depth to his centre-back options after securing the impressive signing of Sven Botman last summer.

However, Nicolò Schira claims the Red Devils are leading the race to sign Kim as they have offered the player a five-year deal with Erik ten Hag’s side ready to pay the £42m release clause.

Kim played a key role as Napoli lifted the Serie A title last season, their first since 1990.

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Newcastle have the richest owners in the Premier League but will be required to spend shrewdly as their spending will remain restricted by the competition’s Finanical Fair Play rules.

The Magpies could raise funds from player sales, with Jamaal Lascelles one player who could leave the club as he enters the final year of his contract.

Addressing Newcastle’s summer plans, Howe said last month: “We’ve got work to do, we’ve got work to do to be ready, we know that. There’s a big task ahead of us, but I’m confident we can do it.

“It’s going to be important for us, we have got to try to get it right and that’s going to underpin our success, really. I think we’ve been really, really good in the three transfer windows so far since I’ve been here.

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“The challenge gets harder and more difficult because, now we’ve become a better team, there are fewer players who would make us better, so it’s going to be a big window for us.

“It won’t be huge numbers – I don’t think it can be. We don’t have the ability to spend the money that people will think we have, so we’re going to have to be smart. It will be a small group of players, but hopefully ones that can make the difference.”

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