Manchester United will reportedly have to break their record for transfer fee paid, if they are to sign top defensive target Kalidou Koulibaly in the summer.

According to a report from the Daily Mirror, Manchester United have made Napoli and Senegal centre-half Kalidou Koulibaly as their primary transfer target heading into the summer window. They will, however, have to shell out a record transfer fee if they are to get their hands on the 27-year-old superstar.

Koulibaly is widely regarded as one of the elite centre-backs in Europe. Having made his name with Belgian outfit KRC Genk, the 27-year-old moved to Napoli in the summer of 2014 and has become an integral part of the team that has been the best of the rest in Italy, behind champions Juventus for a number of years now.

The 2018-19 campaign has seen Koulibaly take the field on 47 occasions across all competitions, scoring and assisting two goals apiece, helping Napoli to a second-place finish in the Serie A along with a quarter-final run in the UEFA Europa League.

Manchester United have been linked with a move for the Senegalese international for a while now. It is no secret that the Red Devils’ defence had been all over the places in the 2018-19 season. With the exception of Victor Lindelof, none of the defenders at the club performed at the level required, contributing to their struggles especially towards the end of the season.

A new centre-back is hence, on top of manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s summer shopping list. Manchester United were believed to be rekindling their interest in Leicester City star Harry Maguire. However, the report from Mirror claims that it is Koulibaly that they are eyeing as their primary defensive target ahead of the next season.

This Manchester United backline has been lacking a commanding presence and a leader for a number of years now. And signing Koulibaly would go a long way in addressing that. However, for that to come to fruition, the 20-time English champions will have to spend heavily as Napoli have no interest in losing their prized asset.

Speaking of the 27-year-old recently, Napoli manager Carlo Ancelotti said: “He is worth €150m and he is not available for transfer. Koulibaly’s contract expires in 2023, in 2021 there’s a €150m clause but Napoli do not need to sell, the president [Aurelio De Laurentiis] does not want to sell and the question doesn’t come up.”

Set to become the world's most expensive defender? (Photo by Francesco Pecoraro/Getty Images)

Set to become the world’s most expensive defender? (Photo by Francesco Pecoraro/Getty Images)

With Napoli reportedly demanding a fee of £130 million (€150 million) for Koulibaly, Manchester United will have to break their transfer record, which currently stands at £89 million, that they paid to bring back Paul Pogba from Juventus n 2016.

Should Manchester United decide to meet the aforementioned valuation, it will also make the Senegalese the world’s most expensive defender, eclipsing the £75 million Liverpool shelled out to Southampton to sign Virgil van Dijk in January 2018.

Signing Koulibaly would be a huge statement of intent from Manchester United. But, it remains to be seen if they are willing to spend so heavily on a single player, given that reinforcements are needed all across the pitch heading into the summer window.