Soccer

Manchester United favourites to secure deal for Napoli defender

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According to Italian outlet Il Mattino, Premier League giants Manchester United have emerged as the clear favourites in the race to sign Napoli left-back Faouzi Ghoulam.

Class act

Ghoulam, a 27-year-old Algerian international, has long been regarded as one of the finest full-backs in Serie A, with his lung-busting runs up and down Napoli’s left flank having proven crucial to the fortunes of Maurizio Sarri’s men for several seasons now.

The dynamic African notched 6 assists in the Italian top-flight last season, and had already racked up a further 2 goals and 3 assists during the current campaign, before a cruciate ligament rupture suffered during a Champions League tie with Manchester City saw the stopper ruled out until February.

In incredibly unfortunate circumstances, though, after making his return to first-team training, Ghoulam then fractured his kneecap, with the former Saint-Etienne man having not played since.

NAPLES, ITALY – NOVEMBER 01: Faouzi Ghoulam of SSC Napoli line up before the UEFA Champions League group F match between SSC Napoli and Manchester City at Stadio San Paolo on November 1, 2017 in Naples, Italy. (Photo by Francesco Pecoraro/Getty Images)

Etihad links

Ghoulam was heavily linked with a departure from Napoli last summer, with Man City boss Pep Guardiola having targeted the Partenopei man following the departures of both Aleksandar Kolarov and Gael Clichy.

In the end, though, Napoli held firm, with the Citizens having opted to bring in Benjamin Mendy from Monaco instead.

Old Trafford bound?

The other club most frequently touted as a potential destination for Ghoulam have been Manchester United, who are expected to be on the lookout for left-back reinforcements again this summer.

And, as per the aforementioned report from Neapolitan outlet Il Mattino today, the Red Devils’ interest in Ghoulam has been piqued once again due to Napoli having lowered their demands for the full-back, with United now viewed as absolute ‘favourites’ for his signature.

Both Il Mattino and the Corriere Dello Sport are now of the opinion that the Algerian international has become available for less than 40 million Euro due to his recent injury problems, after Napoli had previously demanded a minimum of 50 million Euro.

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