LIVERPOOL have reportedly made the first move for Manchester United and Chelsea target Kalidou Koulibaly ahead of a summer transfer war.
Reports in Italy outline a potential £54million bid from the Anfield side – which would be swiftly knocked back by Napoli.
Talk of a major market overhaul of the Serie A club has subsided after Gennaro Gattuso reinvigorated the team, leading to the Coppa Italia final victory over Juventus last week.
With European football guaranteed for next season, Napoli reportedly see little reason to drop their £90m valuation of the centre-back.
According to Corriere dello Sport, Liverpool are preparing a bid that would land some way short of the Partenopei’s demands.
The Senegal international’s capture would forge a potentially imperious partnership with Virgil van Dijk with Dejan Lovren reportedly set to leave this summer.
Replacing the ex-Southampton man with Koulibaly will be met with stiff competition from both United and Chelsea.
The Blues are already heavily investing in the summer market and have been linked with the Napoli ace for a number of years.
Preparing to create a first-class pairing of their own, Manchester United are said to be eyeing Koulibaly to line up alongside Harry Maguire.
Previous interest from Barcelona, Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain is thought to have dissipated to clear the way from a Premier League stand-off.
Indeed, a wildcard approach from Newcastle could yet be decisive with the Magpies’ £300million Saudi-backed takeover possibly leading to a serious spending spree on Tyneside.
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Ahead of Napoli’s Coppa triumph, Koulibaly spoke positively of the club’s future and of wanting to “repay” the fans after months out of action.
He told RAI Sport: “Many things are changing at Napoli, but above all they are returning to the way they were.
“I hadn’t started a match for six months, so I am very happy to be back playing with my teammates. They and all the fans gave me so much support during this difficult time and I want to repay them for that.”