According to president Aurelio De Laurentiis, Napoli rejected Chelsea’s £50.9million bid for Kalidou Koulibaly during the summer transfer window.
De Laurentiis attended the Leaders in Sport Business conference at Stamford Bridge earlier this week and shared a few surprising words with Sky Sports, revealing Chelsea launched a failed bid for Napoli’s star centre-back Kalidou Koulibaly during the final days of the summer window.
He said: “My friend Conte will say it is not true but Chelsea offered me, in the last few days of the window, €58million for Koulibaly. I explained to them that this year I could not sell him, but we will see next year.”
Let’s not rule out the possibility of De Laurentiis using a public platform to subtly reveal his valuation of the in-demand defender. It’s rather intriguing that he suggested a world-record transfer fee for a centre-half whilst strongly hinting he’d prepared to do business next summer – all the more curiously just a matter of weeks after the Senegal international signed a contract until 2021 at Stadio San Paolo.
But Chelsea were linked with Koulibaly continuously throughout the summer and a variety of sources mooted potential fees around the £50million mark, including Calcio Mercato. Likewise, London Evening Standard reported on a failed £42million bid in early August.
Furthermore, we know Chelsea were in the market for a centre-half during the summer, eventually completing a Deadline Day swoop for former Blue David Luiz. It all suggests the Brazilian was a back-up target for Antonio Conte, after missing out on the Napoli man.
It’s entirely possible. Chelsea’s defensive issues have become increasingly prevalent in the absence of captain John Terry and they’ve been linked with countless reinforcements during the last few weeks. Last night, The Telegraph reported on Roman Abramovich’s plans to splash out a staggering £60milion on Juventus centre-back Leonardo Bonucci when the transfer window reopens in January.
It’s not clear whether De Laurentiis meant the turn of 2017 or the summer when he said ‘next year’, but in the latter case Koulibaly might miss the boat. Most speculation at the moment, such as the aforementioned Telegraph article, points to Chelsea focusing on a defensive overhaul in January.
That being said, Koulibaly is one of the best of the rest when it comes to world football’s centre-backs and at the age of 25, there’s plenty of potential for the 6 foot 5 defender to further improve. Even at £50.9million, he could be a shrewd investment and one worth waiting for.