Liverpool ‘target’ Kim Min-jae to give Van Dijk new partner in crime

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Liverpool are reportedly among a collection of Premier League sides that ‘dream’ about signing Napoli star Kim Min-jae, with a release clause poised to come into play at the end of the season. Manager Jurgen Klopp could pair the South Korean with Virgil van Dijk as Joel Matip enters the final 18 months of his Reds contract. 

Van Dijk has been a stalwart of the Liverpool defence since he signed from Southampton in 2018. Despite a sequence of attempts, Klopp is yet to give him a world-class centre-back partner that would complete a formidable back four. 

Matip has acquitted himself well when called upon but does not have the star power of his Dutch counterpart and will be available to leave on the cheap at the end of the campaign. Joe Gomez has struggled this term and Ibrahima Konate’s injury woes could force the Reds into the transfer market, having started just two Premier League games all season. 

According to Corriere dello Sport, Liverpool are seriously considering the exploitation of Kim’s release clause which is thought to become active for a two-week period at the start of July. 

The specifics are currently unclear but Napoli could be forced to the negotiating table if his clause, which is thought to lie between £44million and £71m, is met. Kim only made his first foray into European football in 2021 but made an instant impression and earned a move to Serie A after just one season with Fenerbahce. 

Less than a year into his stint in Naples, a host of top sides are believed to be sniffing around the South Korean international, who featured in the nation’s run to the World Cup knockout stages. The 26-year-old had big shoes to fill after Kalidou Koulibaly’s departure from Napoli but he has done so with ease and could be set for his third new club in as many seasons. 

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Liverpool fans would have to wait another few months before getting their hands on Kim due to the timing of his reported release clause. The Napoli star has the reputation and the quality to slot straight in alongside Van Dijk which could see Matip, Konate and Gomez slip down the pecking order. 

While the Reds may have one eye on the long-term, they have other pressing matters to attend to in January and one thing has already been crossed off the to-do list by signing Dutch forward Cody Gakpo. In a welcome boost for supporters, they pipped rivals Manchester United to his signature with £37m paid up front and the rest in add-ons. 

Recruitment in midfield is although rumoured to be a high priority with James Milner approaching the end of his career, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain set to leave at the end of the season and Arthur Melo unlikely to have his loan move from Juventus made permanent. 

A swoop for World Cup-winner Enzo Fernandez may now be beyond them with Chelsea prepared to shell out for the Argentinian star this month, but Liverpool remain in prime position to strike for Jude Bellingham if he opts to leave Borussia Dortmund in the summer. 

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