Report claims Rafael Benitez wants to reunite with £24m-rated Napoli man at Newcastle

Rafa Benitez 3

According to speculation in Italy, the Magpies boss wants to bring his former defensive star Kalidou Koulibaly to England this summer.

His future may still be up in the air, but it appears as though Newcastle United manager Rafael Benitez has already begun sounding out potential transfer targets, as a report from Italian outlet Il Messaggero claims that he wants to bring hid former Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly to Tyneside.

Benitez was in charge at the Italian club for two seasons before leaving at the end of last season to take over at Real Madrid, and he signed Koulibaly from Belgian side Genk for around £5 million two years ago.

The Senegalese star, who is a hugely versatile player capable of lining up at centre-back or full-back as well as in defensive midfield, is building an ever-increasing reputation as one of the best defensive enforcers in Serie A.

His authoritative style of play has helped Napoli launch a leading bid to finish as runners-up to champions Juventus, and his form has seen him linked with the likes of Manchester United and Bayern Munich.

However, Il Messaggero reports that Benitez is hoping to use his connections with Napoli and the player himself to convince the 24-year-old to move instead to St. James' Park if he departs Naples this summer.

The outlet claims that Newcastle had already expressed previous interest in Koulibaly under Steve McClaren, alleging that the Magpies had a bid of around £12 million rejected in January.

Koulibaly's improvement in form as the season has gone on is likely to have seen his price tag increase considerably, however, and the report suggests that Napoli would be looking for somewhere in the region of £24 million to part with one of their prized assets.

Of course, any serious interest from Newcastle would undoubtedly hinge on their survival, as surely not even the thought of playing under his former manager again would convince the star to turn down potential European football for the Championship.

Register for NEWCASTLE UNITED team updates

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch