Manchester City remain interested in bolstering their defensive ranks with the signing of Kalidou Koulibaly – despite Lionel Messi emerging as their top target.
Pep Guardiola has prioritised his defence in the summer transfer window after missing out on the Premier League title and suffering Champions League heartbreak last season.
Nathan Ake has already arrived from Bournemouth, while the Etihad club have been in a tussle with fierce rivals Manchester United to land Koulibaly from Napoli.
But after Messi dropped a huge bombshell this week demanding to leave Barcelona, City were expected to drop other targets to bring in the Argentina superstar.
However the Athletic claims that City remain intent on bringing Koulibaly to the Etihad, regardless of Messi's future in Spain.
But the Premier League giants are reluctant to meet Napoli's €90million valuation, having been quoted €80m earlier in the summer.
And City, it is claimed, are understood to be willing to meet the lower price tag once bonuses are included.
Guardiola is keen to avoid a repeat of last summer when they were pipped to Harry Maguire by United after refusing to meet Leicester's valuation.
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However Napoli chief Aurelio De Laurentiis is standing firm over his stance – and has urged City and their rivals to come up with the cash if they want to land the defender.
He said: "You don’t have to ask me if Koulibaly will play for Napoli again. You have to ask Manchester United, Manchester City and PSG.
"They are the teams who can afford to pay certain amounts today.
"I see many buzzards on the transfers market – you know who they are, they seem to be waiting to swoop in, but we have impenetrable armour and they’ll not get what they want or at the prices they want."
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