Kalidou Koulibaly: Will Napoli's £89m star finally get a move?

Kalidou Koulibaly combines physical dominance with ball-playing finesse and would improve any backline… with a long list of suitors will Napoli defender finally get a move or will clubs be put off by £89m fee and the fact he turns 29 next month?

  • Kalidou Koulibaly has been one of the most sought-after players in recent years
  • The Napoli defender continues to excel there – with his list of suitors increasing
  • Paris Saint-Germain reportedly want him to replace Thiago Silva this summer
  • Napoli owner and chairman Aurelio De Laurentiis is determined to hold on to him
  • Koulibaly, who turns 29 on June 20, is valued at £89million by the Serie A outfit 

Kalidou Koulibaly. You may not have watched too much of him, but you’ll certainly be aware of the name.

The Napoli centre back has been one player who has led coverage of transfer rumours for multiple windows now.

The highly sought-after defender has had a reported list of suitors including the likes of Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Liverpool, Manchester United and Real Madrid.

Napoli centre back Kalidou Koulibaly is set to be the subject of more transfer talk this summer

The defender has a long list of suitors – with Paris Saint-Germain the latest club eyeing him up

As well as PSG, the likes of Liverpool, Manchester United and Real Madrid have all been linked

On Thursday, reports in France suggested that Paris Saint-Germain are going to focus their attentions on signing the Senegal international.

According to L’Equipe, there are four positions where manager Thomas Tuchel would like to strengthen his squad, with one such area being at centre back, and planning for a future without 35-year-old captain Thiago Silva.

Koulibaly’s profile certainly fits the void that would need filling should Silva depart the Parc des Princes this summer.

On the surface it is an enigma why Koulibaly hasn’t yet swapped the Italian giants for one of Europe’s superpowers yet.

At 28, he’s certainly at his peak and has been demonstrating his class for Napoli over a number of seasons now.

However, according to L’Equipe, PSG could be deterred due to Napoli’s £89million asking price

Since joining in 2014 from Belgian outfit Genk, he has been a virtual ever-present in the Naples outfit’s backline.

His arrival saw the club finish fifth in Serie A during the 2014-15 season but since then they’ve finished runners-up three times (2015-16, 2017-18 and 2018-19) and third once (2016-17). If it wasn’t for the sustained brilliance of Juventus, they could have numerous championship crowns.

Watching Koulibaly play – he has it all. A physically dominant defender, at 6ft 1 and with speed in abundance, he allies that with his ball-playing finesse and a reliability to play every match.

These qualities mean opposition strikers find it hard to compete with him in the air or on the ground, while he has the composure to play out of the back when facing a high press.

The stats back up these claims too.

A physically dominant defender, at 6ft 1in, Koulibaly is hard to beat in the air and on the ground

Over the course of his stint at Napoli, his passing accuracy has not dipped below 85 per cent in Serie A (in fact if you round the figures up it hasn’t dropped below 86 per cent – with his lowest figure of 85.9 per cent coming in the 2015-16 campaign). His peak was in 2017-18 at 91.2 per cent across 35 league games, while this season his passing accuracy averages 89.3 per cent after 15 matches.

He is excellent at starting attacks from the back, often playing the incisive forward-thinking balls that are especially the hallmark of great modern-day defenders. 

From a defensive standpoint, Koulibaly tends to come out on top. Across his six seasons he has always won more than 50 per cent of his duels. His lowest figure came last term at 54.5 per cent, while he is currently enjoying a career high at Napoli this season with a 60.7 per cent duel-success rate.

Koulibaly is a calm defender too – only sticking a foot in when necessary. He’s never averaged more than three tackles a game each season in Serie A and the same can be said for interceptions.

When it comes to a foul count, the Senegalese is relatively disciplined too – having never averaged more than two fouls per game over a season. This is endorsed by the fact he has only given away one penalty across this spell (during the 2015-16 campaign) – that’s across an impressive 173 games.

The 28-year-old has won 60.7 per cent of his duels this seasons in Serie A for the Italian giants 

The centre back isn’t averse to playing on the biggest of stages either – having demonstrated his class against the world’s best multiple times in the Champions League especially. This was evident in Napoli’s group-stage clashes with defending champions Liverpool this season. Napoli won the first encounter 2-0 in September before earning a 1-1 draw at Anfield in November.

Despite all of his apparent qualities, one stumbling block for the defender’s suitors appears to be his asking price. Napoli owner and chairman Aurelio De Laurentiis is determined to keep hold of his star asset.

There are reports suggesting that there will be no budging on their valuation – with the club demanding £89million, despite the effect the coronavirus outbreak is likely to have on the upcoming transfer window.

This fee plus the fact Koulibaly turns 29 on June 20 could ward off interest – with clubs having little resell value on him moving forwards. If that was the case, De Laurentiis would be delighted with his key man having another three years left to run on his current contract.

He captained Napoli in their 1-1 draw at Liverpool in the Champions League in November

A leader, he has skippered Napoli on several occasions and is currently their vice-captain. Koulibaly would certainly bolster any backline in the world.

Having been compared to Liverpool colossus Virgil van Dijk, if he could make a similar impact elsewhere then any prospective new club would be delighted with that.

At 28, it could be time for him to prove his mettle on the grandest stages of them all before it’s too late. Expect to read and hear about his name more often as we approach this summer’s transfer window.

Koulibaly turns 29 in June, so time is running out for him to demonstrate his peak elsewhere

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