Home comforts look set to sway Koulibaly chase
Star central defenders are hard to come by these days but one looks set to go on the market this summer: Napoli's Kalidou Koulibaly.
The Senegal international has been with the Partenopei since the summer of 2014, signing from Belgian outfit Genk for a reported £6.5m in what, as we’ll discover later, could prove to be a huge bargain.
Since then, the now 28-year-old has been outstanding, marshalling the troops with authority and while Napoli may not have realised their potential, mainly due to the brilliance of Juventus, he has shone. In a league such as Serie A where defence is king, being named in the Team of the Year for four straight seasons is special.
So much so that Juve even considered their old trick of snarring their rivals’ best players but could not force through a deal. However, despite last year being made an honorary citizen of Naples, this looks to be the summer he moves on.
Inevitably, Manchester United have been linked with him in past years but no deal has been forthcoming. Koulibaly is the type of standout name that the Red Devils’ board crave and unlike some of their recent flops, has the pedigree to back up his hype.
However, in contrast to certain players at Old Trafford, he seems to ignore the limelight and in a global marketing monster like United, may not always fit the profile.
Still, it is a chance they might be willing to take, while Tottenham have also been linked with a deal.
Spurs need defensive reinforcements with Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen no longer the players they were. However, with the present situation considered would you want to play for Jose Mourinho?
A move to Chelsea has also been suggested. The Blues have a stable of decent defenders in Anthony Rudiger, Kurt Zouma, Andreas Christensen and Fiyako Tomori but none are in Koulibaly’s bracket.
With no transfer ban to worry about, the Londoners are expected to go big this summer and will see his 150m euro release as a chance to make a statement.
However, there is another candidate and one it is tough to look past. Yes, the Premier League offers top-level football, but the competitive nature of the division means Koulibaly cannot be guaranteed Champions League football.
FFP depending, Paris Saint-Germain can, and reports in France suggest talks between Les Parisiens’ sporting director Leonardo and his Neopolitan counterparts are progressing well.
The move makes sense for PSG with Thiago Silva set to leave when his contract expires in the summer and Koulibaly is perhaps the perfect candidate as their new defensive talisman, and perhaps, club captain.
While he plays for Senegal, Koulibaly was born and grew up in France, representing Les Bleus at under-20 level and with a young family, the chance to speak his first language and live in Paris could be too tough to turn down.
While Ligue 1 is not the most competitive, there are, whisper it, things that are more important than football. Plus, having only won the Supercoppa Italiana at Napoli, he may fancy some almost guaranteed silverware.
Reports suggest Leonardo may even be charming Aurelio de Laurentiis into a sale below that 150m euro asking price so watch this space.
Unfortunately for us fans in England, the latest reports suggest it is unlikely that we will see Koulibaly anytime soon.