Chelsea scouts have been looking at Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly for the past two seasons. However, the blues finally seem to have decided that the French born Senegal International is their man as reports of a £60 million offer intensifies with a few days of transfer action left. The ageing centre back combination of Gary Cahill and John Terry is not getting any better, but are Chelsea in danger of being over the odds for a player just so that they need to fix? Are the 2014-15 English champions wasting their time over a player rather than looking at alternatives?
Koulibaly came to prominence at Belgian outfit Genk. Chelsea have had a few successful transfer dealings with Genk in the past, but they let Koulibaly slip through to Napoli for just £6.5 million. Since then, however, Manchester United and Chelsea scouts have been keeping a close eye on the player. Koulibaly was a virtual ever present for Napoli in the 2015-16 season, as he made 42 appearances in all competitions. It was also the best ever season for the 25-year-old, as he won 2.5 aerial duels per game.
His overall statistics look great, but it seems that Napoli have taken advantage of the media attention to ramp up the price to astronomical levels. Even though the summer transfer window has witnessed some crazy deals, the rumour that Chelsea are ready to pay up to £60 million for a defender will undoubtedly take centre stage. Manchester United paid £30 million to Villarreal for the transfer of Eric Bailly. The Ivory Coast defender has had an extraordinary start to his United career. Incredibly, he made more interceptions per game (2.6 vs 2.5) and had less fouls per game (1.4 vs 1.8) than Koulibaly last season.
Of course, some would argue that Manchester City made John Stones as the world’s second most expensive defender after signing him for £47.5 million. The former Evertonian, though, is English and just 22 years old. It would have been a major factor in convincing City that it was an investment for the next decade and not for the next five years.
Koulibaly may be a great player, but Napoli have shown in the past that they are not the club to sell cheap. They have just sold Gonzalo Higuain – a 28-year-old striker – for £75 million. The Italians are looking to do the same, as Chelsea waste their time on Koulibaly.