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Manchester United have failed in the second bid of €103 million (£91m/$116m) for Napoli centre-back Kalidou Koulibaly, according to reports.
Corriere dello Sport claim the Italian club “immediately” rejected the world-record offer.
The deal would have seen Koulibaly become the most expensive defender in world football, eclipsing the £75m Liverpool paid to bring Virgil van Dijk to Anfield.
Jose Mourinho has continually condemned his club’s failure to sign a central defender during the summer transfer window, feeling that the board’s failure to back him in this regard has contributed to United’s poor start to the season.
Mourinho refused to be drawn into speculation over his interest in Napoli defender Koulibaly following Manchester United’s 2-2 draw with Southampton.
Mourinho found himself shorthanded in defence after injuries to Chris Smalling and Eric Bailly, with Victor Lindelof already sidelined, left the manager with just a pair of healthy centre-backs.
The result was Nemanja Matic and Scott McTominay, normally midfielders, lining up either side of Phil Jones in the heart of defence, and the Red Devils conceding twice in the disappointing draw.
In his post-match media conference, Mourinho was asked about that rumour but refused to give a definitive answer on the matter, saying the Senegal international is another club’s payer.
“I cannot answer to your question,” Mourinho said. “If is true, if is not true, I cannot answer to your question.
“Maybe your question is the first one about the market and maybe the next press conference I have two more questions, and maybe the next press conference I have three more.
“The only thing I can tell you is Koulibaly is a Napoli player. And I don’t speak about players from other clubs.”
Koulibaly signed a new contract over the summer tying him with the Serie A side until 2023, but that has not stopped reports of teams trying to land the Napoli star.