Chelsea are reportedly considering a January move for Napoli powerhouse Kalidou Koulibaly as an alternative to Jules Kounde.
According to journalist Rudy Galetti, Chelsea are lining up a January swoop for Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly as an alternative to primary transfer target Jules Kounde.
The 22-year-old French international was tipped to make the switch to Stamford Bridge before the transfer deadline day, but the move eventually collapsed due to a difference in valuation between Sevilla and Chelsea. Los Nervionenses refused to let go of their asset for anything less than his release clause, but Chelsea were unwilling to pay £68.5 million for the Frenchman.
Following the permanent departures of Fikayo Tomori and Kurt Zouma to AC Milan and West Ham, respectively, the Blues defensive roster has become a bit thin considering they usually deploy a backline consisting of three central defenders. Thiago Silva, Antonio Rudiger and Andreas Christensen the only senior options available at Thomas Tuchel’s disposal, along with captain Cesar Azpilicueta.
Young Trevoh Chalobah has made a promising start to the season, but is still in the early stages of his development and may take time to nurture properly. Considering Silva, Rudiger and Christensen are all in the final year of their contracts and Azpilicueta not getting any younger, a new defender could be on the cards. And one of the names that has popped up is of Senegalese centre-back Kalidou Koulibaly.
Regarded as one of the best defenders in Serie A for a long while now, due to his consistent dominant displays, Koulibaly has been a regular at the heart of the Napoli backline since making his move from Belgian outfit Genk. The Senegalese international has racked up 283 appearances for the Italians to date, chipping in with 11 goals and five assists along the way.
The 30-year-old has struggled of late with a few fitness issues and injuries in the last couple of seasons, but the defensive wall has still maintained his stature within the Italian top-flight. Last campaign, he featured in 26 games for the Partenopei averaging 1.4 tackles, 1.1 interceptions, 2.2 clearances and a block per game which can be adjudged as fairly solid numbers.
A combination of pace, power and strength, Koulibaly is a very resolute defender in 1v1 situations and hard to dribble past. He prefers not to dive into ground tackles straightaway; instead uses his incredible physique to disbalance the forward. He is a ball-playing centre-half, and Napoli often use him in the build-up play.
He was heavily linked with various moves away from Stadio Diego Armando Maradona for the last couple of years, with top clubs such as Manchester United among the interested parties. He was recently linked to a reunion with his former boss Rafa Benitez at Everton, but nothing materialized.
At 30, Koulibaly is at an age at which Napoli may want to cash in on him if the right offer comes around. They have slapped a €60 million price tag on his head, but that may be slashed down significantly with his current deal set to expire in 12 months. Chelsea could reignite their pursuit for Kounde in January as he is a priority target, but Sevilla will likely want to avoid selling him midway through the campaign. Koulibaly would certainly be an interesting alternative then.