Kalidou Koulibaly & Nikola Milenkovic
According to Duncan Castles in the Sunday Times, both Napoli’s Kalidou Koulibaly and Fiorentina’s Nikola Milenkovic are on Jose Mourinho’s wanted list this January.
For months, stories have been swirling about regarding Mourinho’s search for a new centre-half.
Despite signing Victor Lindelof and Eric Bailly, Mourinho is painted out to be dissatisfied with his defensive options.
For the record, Man United have already conceded 16 goals this Premier League season.
Only Fulham (25), Cardiff (19), Huddersfield (18) and Burnley (17) have let in more.
Liverpool and Man City have only let in three goals in the league this season.
Koulibaly, the 27-year-old Senegalese international, recently signed a new long term deal at Napoli until 2023. Yet, according to the Sunday Times, Koulibaly “is understood to be open to a move to the Premier League.”
The Times fail to state how much Koulibaly could cost.
As for Milenkovic, 21, he’s under contract in Florence until 2021.
The Sunday Sun report that Man United “have been told it will cost more than £40 million to land Fiorentina centre-back Nikola Milenkovic.”
The Star on Sunday also link Milenkovic with a possible Man United move.
— Helena Lee (@BBCHelenaLee) October 20, 2018
But the Sunday Times throw a spanner in the works noting “there are question marks as to whether (Milenkovic) is ready for such a demanding role at Old Trafford.”
Jose Mourinho vs Ed Woodward
Away from the specifics of the potential offers to sign Koulibaly and/or Milenkovic in January, perhaps the most eye-catching part of the Sunday Times’ report is insight into the working relationship between Mourinho and chief exec Ed Woodward.
The way Duncan Castles tells the story, Mourinho and Woodward aren’t on the same page.
Castles writes that “Jose Mourinho is working to convince Manchester United’s board to fund the recruitment of a starting central defender in the winter transfer window.”
The key word here is ‘convince’. That makes it crystal clear that – right now at least – Woodward isn’t on board with such expenditure in January.
Another interesting intimation in the Sunday Times’ article is the sense of how isolated Mourinho is at Old Trafford when it comes to recruitment.
Not only does Mourinho have to battle those who control the pursestrings, Mourinho is also having to do his own scouting:
Mourinho spent part of the international break watching central defenders in person, in order to assess whether individuals identified by United’s scouting department would be capable of filling a position that has proven an Achilles’ heel throughout his time as manager.
— Duncan Castles (@DuncanCastles) October 21, 2018