Newcastle United's prospective new owners are keen to make Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly the 'cornerstone' of their ambitious, new project on Tyneside.
The consortium, controversially backed by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, has been in discussions to buy the Magpies in a £300m deal for some time, with the buyers now waiting on the Premier League's green light for the takeover to be completed.
While the process has been drawn out and fraught with complications, the Magpies' potential owners are already planning for the future, with reports over the last few weeks linking Newcastle to a number of high-profile managers and players to boost the team next season.
The latest big name to be lined up for Newcastle is Koulibaly. Foot Mercato report that the Napoli's centre back is set to be a 'cornerstone' target this summer, but the Magpies may have to pay close to €100m to land him.
Foot Mercato say that the Saudis have informed I Partenopei that they would be ready to get as close as possible to the hefty asking price laid down by President Aurelio De Laurentiis.
However, this contrasts with 90min's own information. We reported in June that the Italians would be prepared to accept an offer of closer to £75m (€84m) for their talismanic defender.
Koulibaly, often rated as one of the world's top centre backs, has endured injury woes this term but has nonetheless appeared 27 times for a Napoli side who have enjoyed somewhat of a resurgence following the arrival of Gennaro Gattuso last December.
Foot Mercato's report adds that Newcastle's potential owners have already offered the 29-year-old Senegal international a 'long-term' deal at St James' Park.
Koulibaly is well known to be attached to the city of Naples and whether a move to a club without European football would appeal for a player entering the last years of his peak is highly debatable. However, Newcastle's potentially unrivalled riches in the era of economic stability remains a wildcard factor.
Jurgen Klopp and Liverpool are also said to have been keen on a Koulibaly but his age and cost put him well outside the realms of possibility in the Reds' recruitment strategy.
Source : 90min