Napoli’s squad appears to taking shape ahead of the new Serie A season. The Partenopei have secured the signing of midfielder Piotr Zielinski and are close to landing Torino centre-back Nikola Maksimovic, paving the way for Kalidou Koulibaly’s potential departure.  

 

Reports in Italy last week suggested that a failure to land Koulibaly from Napoli because of the Serie A outfit’s high asking price had forced Chelsea to turn to Torino’s Nikola Maksimovic. The centre-back has been a highly sought after prospect in the Serie A for the last two seasons, with AC Milan, Fiorentina and Napoli all reported to be after him.

The Situation

Napoli’s attempts to sign new players were constantly rebuffed as Marko Pjaca along with many others rejected a switch to San Paolo in favour of other destinations. With the monster-money sale of Gonzalo Higuain to Juventus, Napoli will be desperate to reinvest that money wisely in the transfer market. Polish international Arkadiusz Milik has already arrived along with Piotr Zielinski.

In defence, Napoli have secured Zielinski’s former Empoli teammate — the vastly underrated Lorenzo Tonelli. But the Partenopei are looking to sign yet another central defender, which could indicate the possible departure of Koulibaly to Chelsea or to another Premier League club. Blues manager Antonio Conte will be desperate to address the dearth of defensive options available to him with the signing of a centre-back this summer, and Koulibaly is reportedly at the top of his wishlist.

Koulibaly conundrum

Empoli's defender Nikola Maksimovic celebrates after scoring during the Italian Serie A football match SSC Napoli vs Empoli FC on January 31, 2016 at the San Paolo stadium in Naples. / AFP / CARLO HERMANN (Photo credit should read CARLO HERMANN/AFP/Getty Images)

Empoli’s defender Nikola Maksimovic celebrates after scoring during the Italian Serie A football match SSC Napoli vs Empoli FC on January 31, 2016 at the San Paolo stadium in Naples. (Photo courtesy – CARLO HERMANN/AFP/Getty Images)

If Napoli manage to acquire Maksimovic, they will still have solid defensive options to choose from, including Raul Albiol and new signing Tonelli. This would enable them to sell Koulibaly, who is refusing to renew his contract as he has his sights set on the Premier League. However, if Valencia’s interest in Raul Albiol is concrete, Napoli would again be on the market for another defender.

Maksimovic is a far cheaper alternative to Koulibaly, despite suffering various injuries last season. Torino want a price of €20m for their prized asset despite having recently lost Maksimovic’s defensive partner Kamil Glik to French side Monaco. Conte reportedly thinks highly of Maksimovic, which explains Chelsea’s interest in the tall Serbian. But it seems now that Napoli are on the verge of announcing a trio of transfers — Marko Rog, Amadou Diawara and Maksimovic.

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