(Ben W) #1
(Napoli, Ita & Senegal)
Given the dearth of top-class centre-
backs these days, it’s hardly surprising
that Napoli’s Senegalese stopper is the
subject of a thousand and one transfer
rumours. Scarce commodities are
inevitably priced at a premium rate, thus
the reserve price of €100million. And
club president Aurelio De Laurentiis, who
is one of the most uncompromising
figures in football, will only will do
business if a king’s ransom is involved.
Interested parties are going to have to
dig extremely deep for the 27-year-old.
Besides shelling out a world-record fee
for a defender, they must also improve
on Koulibaly’s current remuneration
package, which nets him some €6m per
annum including bonuses.
Napoli are playing a disciplined game
at the moment. And so they should. They
have Koulibaly under contractual lock

and key until 2023 and can sit back and
watch the one-upmanship games unfold.
Whatever the outcome, De Laurentiis and
co will be the winners.
Napoli coach Carlo Ancelotti recently
insisted that the imposing centre-back
would not be moving on this summer. “All
our big names will remain here,” he told
Italian newspaper La Repubblica. “We are
not forced to sell and make capital gains.
Does this also apply to Koulibaly?
Absolutely. He is not moving from here.”
Fighting talk in every sense, but exactly
how will Napoli react if a sky-high offer is
put on the table? A nine-figure windfall
would be mightily persuasive and if
recent history is anything to go by they
may eventually crack, just as they did
when cashing in on strikers Edinson

Cavani and Gonzalo Higuain.
Known affectionately as K2 after
the world’s second-highest mountain,
Koulibaly will have a difficult decision to
make. Tipped to quit Napoli for some
time now, he has a very prestigious set
of suitors.
According to Spanish daily AS,

he is a target for Real Madrid, who see
him as a replacement for unsettled
French international Raphael Varane.
Manchester United, meanwhile, have
identified him as the answer to their
long-standing woes in central defence.
And desperate for greater Champions
League competitiveness, free-spending

(Atletico Madrid,
Spa & Sln)
Arguably the
world’s best
keeper on current
form, he has been
in talks for an
improved contract
at Atletico after
snubbing interest
from Chelsea last
summer. Could
be a replacement
for David De Gea
at Manchester
United.

(Ajax, Hol & Arg)
While Ajax
youngsters Frenkie
De Jong and
Matthijs De Ligt
have hogged
headlines, the
full-back has
attracted interest
from some of
Europe’s wealthiest
clubs, but Ajax
hope he will stay
in Amsterdam for
at least another
season.

JAN OBLAK NICOLAS TAGLIAFICO


KALIDOU KOULIBALY


MOST WANTED Mature movers


“We’re not forced to sell
and make capital gains.
Does this apply to
Koulibaly? Absolutely”
Napoli coach Carlo Ancelotti