Serie A giants Napoli are set to reject yet another Chelsea bid for Kalidou Koulibaly — this time an offer worth €50m — according to reports in Italy.
Koulibaly has been on Chelsea’s radar this summer as the Blues look to improve a defence that leaked 53 goals from 38 Premier League matches last season. Newly appointed manager Antonio Conte has been impressed with Koulibaly’s performances at Napoli last season and is eager to sign the Senegal international for his Blues’ side.
However, Napoli have been firm in their stance regarding the centre-back. The Partenopei president Aurelio De Laurentiis has insisted that Koulibaly is not for sale given his importance to the squad.
Napoli have been preparing contingency plans just in case Koulibaly does leave the club for greener pastures. Recent reports have suggested that the Neapolitans are close to signing Torino defender Nikola Maksimovic.
However, Torino have turned down a €25 million bid for Maksimovic, as a result of which Napoli are expected to reject a €50 million offer for Koulibaly from Chelsea, according to a report in Italian newspaper La Gazzetta dello Sport.
Maksimovic has been targeted by both Napoli and Chelsea this summer. The Serbian has put in a transfer request at Torino, as he is said to be looking to play in the Champions League this season. A move to Napoli seems to be a more viable option as the Partenopei have qualified for Europe’s premier competition under coach Maurizio Sarri’s guidance.
The 24-year-old put in some brilliant performances for Torino last season, showing that he is a centre-back who can read the game well. In fact, Maksimovic (3.94) has made more interceptions per game than Koulibaly (2.48), who was largely regarded as one of the best defenders in the Serie A last season.
To add to that, the Serbian has won an incredible 78.26% of his aerial duels as compared to Koulibaly’s 55.1%. This added aerial presence adds another dimension to Maksimovic’s game.
However, Koulibaly does have the experience of performing at the top level on a consistent basis, as Napoli gave Juventus a stiff fight for the Serie A crown last season. While both Napoli and Torino seem to be trying to hold on to their respective defenders, it will be interesting to see if a further increase in the offered transfer fee can change their minds.