The game-changing £52m signing that will make Man Utd instant title contenders next season

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Man Utd will look to build on a solid 2022/23 campaign, as they plot a busy summer transfer window ahead of a potential title challenge next season.

They call him ‘The Monster’; a 6’3” monolith with the imposing physique of a Bond villain’s henchman and the stern, nondescript features of a disenchanted office worker. Harrowing stuff. His aggression precedes him, and his rise has been meteoric in a sense that would make the dinosaurs shudder. He is Kim Min-jae, and he is being touted for a move to Old Trafford this summer.

In that regard, he is hardly unique. Manchester United’s transfer wish list, if the relevant scribblers and chancers are to be believed, reads like the unabridged Domesday Book, and much like jury duty, it is only a matter of time before we are all called upon to perform our civic duty and play down speculation linking us with transfer interest from the Red Devils. One day I will probably write one of these articles about you and everybody you hold dear.

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What sets Kim apart, however, is the fact that United should sign him. In fact, there’s an argument to be made that they need to. For far too long now, club chiefs have treated their defensive recruitment policy like a game of pin the tail on the donkey. On more than one occassion, they have been left holding the donkey itself.

For every Lisandro Martinez, there has been a Harry Maguire. For every Raphael Varane, there has been an Eric Bailly. At times, it has felt like a lucky dip in which the majority of prizes are rusted razorblades. Kim could be the metaphorical tetanus jab United so desperately need. Not that rust actually causes tetanus, but you get my point.

The South Korean international has been a revelation at Napoli this season. Before that he was a revelation at Fenerbahce. Before that he was a revelation at Beijing Guoan, and Jeonbuk Hyundai prior. His career has enjoyed a steady, steep trajectory, and while a Scudetta in Naples has been just reward for his seismic individual impact, it feels as if the next step is for him to make a genuine big money move to cement his place among the global game’s proper elite.

For their part, United are up to their waist in a Dutch revolution that has veered between the promising and the downright messy this season. You would imagine that given the opportunity, Erik ten Hag would ideally like to plunge his glabrous dome into the depths and get the transformation properly shifting.

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Defensively, that is probably going to mean the blunt dismissal of some and the silver-tongued wooing of others, Kim among them. There is talk of a £52 million release clause in his contract, and further whispers that he may already have his heart set on a transfer to Old Trafford in the coming weeks. All of the pieces are dangling, tantalisingly, just waiting to drop into place, like copper teetering over the brink in an arcade coin pusher.

This is where United need to be swift and decisive, because the player at stake is a special talent who won’t be allowed to linger on the shelf for too long. If they don’t swoop for him somebody else will. Indeed, Newcastle have already emerged as one possible suitor in recent days.

If United are to get to where they want to be next season, and that is, namely, back among the title scene, then they need to bring in players who not only offer reliability in key areas, but also elevate the dressing room with a winning mentality. Just look at the difference that Casemiro has made to their midfield.

Perhaps this is a bold claim, but Kim has the potential to be a signing of that ilk. He is a presence, a game-changer, and one that is destined to reach the very, very top of the professional game. If United are smart, they’ll do their utmost to ensure that he takes them with him.

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