Napoli’s plan to replace Kim Min-jae: Partenopei keen on Atalanta pair Scalvini and Demiral

At risk of losing Kim Min-jae this summer, Napoli are looking north for replacements, with two Atalanta centre-backs on their radar.

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It’s looking increasingly likely that Serie A champions Napoli will lose Kim Min-jae, in the upcoming summer transfer window. Reports are suggesting that Manchester United will be the club to activate the release clause in the South Korean’s contract, which will see him depart for around €50 million.

Kim‘s Napoli release clause only will be active from July 1-15, as per La Gazzetta dello Sport, but interest in the centre-back has skyrocketed after his first season in Serie A. The Partenopei have been aware of the interest in him for several months and had fears as early as December that the release clause was too low.

This comes with its positives though, as it means that the club has had a substantial amount of time to plan for their options as to who his replacement will be. Presently, Napoli are thought to be interested in two Atalanta defenders in Giorgio Scalvini and Merih Demiral.

Giorgio Scalvini celebrates scoring for Atalanta. REUTERS/Alessandro Garofalo

Scalvini attracts Napoli interest

Links between Napoli and the young Italian centre-back emerged as the 2022/23 Serie A season approached its end, and a move for the youngster could prove to be another shrewd piece of business from the champions.

Scalvini fits the mould of the player that Luciano Spalletti wants for his project, though there is now uncertainty surrounding the coach’s position at the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona. Starting with his age, at just 19 years old, Scalvini has the world at his feet and looks to have a bright career ahead of him, though still with learning and developing to do.

Scalvini possesses everything that the modern central defender needs, an exceptional understanding of the game, excellent confidence in both defensive and progressive situations, and above all, the ability to match the confidence.

He seems tailor-made for Spalletti, and given he would cost somewhere in the region of €30m it means that there would be additional funds then available for other areas of the pitch to continue to strengthen.

Atalanta’s Merih Demiral and Rafael Toloi celebrate. (REUTERS/Daniele Mascolo)

Demiral on the market, Napoli interested

Also in Bergamo, Merih Demiral‘s situation is somewhat puzzling. Before November the Turkish defender was a stalwart in the Atalanta backline for Gian Piero Gasperini, playing 1,073 minutes over the span of 13 games. Since Serie A’s return from the World Cup-enforced break, the 25-year-old has struggled for game time and accumulated just 447 minutes in 14 matches, finding himself out of favour.

It appears likely, though, that Napoli will move for one or the other, rather than trying to sign both Demiral and Scalvini.

It is thought that Demiral would cost around €10m less than his teammate, again as per La Gazzetta della Sport, which means that Napoli would have more money to reinvest into other areas of the squad.

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