A welcome boost ahead of the new campaign for Napoli under new management, as coveted defender Kalidou Koulibaly has put an end to speculation surrounding his future by signing a new five-year deal with the Partenopei.
Club president Aurelio di Laurentiis revealed the news ahead of their 5-0 thumping at the hands of Liverpool yesterday afternoon.
Koulibaly, who signed for €7.75m from Belgian side Genk four years ago, quickly established himself as a top defender in Italy and across Europe – both in UEFA Champions League and Europa League fixtures.
Premier League links, lofty Maradona praise
Chelsea have regularly been linked with a lucrative swoop for his services, as he’s capable of playing out from the back and has the physical attributes needed to flourish in west London. This was even before Maurizio Sarri’s arrival, which alongside summer acquisition Jorginho could have added more pulling power in their attempts to persuade Koulibaly to join the pair this summer.
They were not alone, either. Speculation suggested Manchester United too were interested recently, while club legend Diego Maradona is a huge admirer, having claimed that if he were white, he’d already be playing for Barcelona or Real Madrid by now.
“He has renewed with us for the next five years,” De Laurentiis reportedly told Sky Sport Italia prior to their pre-season fixture.
“He is the best in his role and we said no to a €90m offer for him. There were three teams ready to take him, but we kept him. Let’s enjoy this team, there are those who work for us and are ready to give everything to win.”
Koulibaly, who featured for Senegal during their World Cup campaign over the summer, played 70 minutes against Jurgen Klopp’s side yesterday. Napoli’s first league game under new boss Carlo Ancelotti will be against Lazio on Saturday, August 18. They’ll be hoping for a much-improved performance than their showing in Dublin, that’s for sure.
Quotes’ source: FourFourTwo
This news will come as somewhat of a surprise, from the perspective of many Premier League followers. Napoli are Italy’s second best team but with the addition of Cristiano Ronaldo in Turin, it’s unlikely to change for the better in the foreseeable future.
Since their first and only UEFA Cup triumph in 1988, Napoli have only reached the semi-finals of either European competition once – 2014/15, where they lost 2-1 (aggregate) to Ukranian side Dnipro.
Koulibaly, who turned 27 in June, is reaching the peak years of his professional career. Loyalty is somewhat of a poisoned chalice in a results-driven business, not least one like football, which is ruthless at the best of times.
It’s clear that he loves his current life in Naples, having already made over 150 appearances in four seasons there. However, how long will this last?
Signing improved terms on a longer contract only increases his market value and in an inflated transfer market, it makes sense from Napoli’s perspective – they too must feel it’s inevitable that clubs will soon offer transfer fees they cannot refuse. When does Kalidou personally decide that he wants to join a better side elsewhere in Europe?