Chelsea have long been in pursuit of a new centre-back to bolster their defence and their Premier League rivals Manchester City may just have inadvertently done them a huge favour.
Napoli centre-back Kalidou Koulibaly has been a long time transfer target for Chelsea, with the club reportedly bidding for the Senegalese defender as far back as May 2016. However, the Serie A giants are unwilling to sell such an important member of their team and have so far rebuffed the Blues’ approaches over the past few months.
In an unexpected twist, it now seems Chelsea’s cause could be helped by one of their Premier League rivals, as a new signing by Napoli could pave the way for an exit for Koulibaly.
Manchester City have agreed terms with the Partenopei over a loan deal for French defender Eliaquim Mangala, which would go a long way in helping Chelsea in their pursuit of Koulibaly, according to The Times. The acquisition of a back-up like Mangala could persuade Napoli to agree to a big-money move for their top central defender, and the Blues would be more than willing to offer a sizeable transfer fee for their top target.
Mangala has been deemed surplus to requirements by new Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola. The 25-year-old centre-back signed from Porto in the summer of 2014 for a reported £31.8 million fee. He went on to make 64 appearances for the club, but hasn’t been convincing enough to cement a place in the first team ahead of Vincent Kompany and Nicolas Otamendi.
The recent signing of John Stones from Everton has sent Mangala even further down the pecking order. However, Napoli could also be signing him to be the defensive partner for Koulibaly. With the Serie A champions Juventus raiding them of their top striker Gonzalo Higuain, I Partenopei need to make a number of smart signings to remain in the race for the Scudetto this season.
Napoli reportedly rejected a €50 million offer from Chelsea for Koulibaly recently, and with the transfer window slowly drawing to a close, the Blues will soon have to make a decision one way or another about pursuing the Senegalese defender.