Aurelio De Laurentiis, the Chairman of the Serie A side Napoli, has claimed that Chelsea Football Club made a £58 million bid for their central defender Kalidou Koulibaly during the summer.
Chelsea’s new head coach Antonio Conte was keen to bring in a new centre-back during the summer, with numerous targets watched and bid for according to club insiders. Eventually their former centre-back David Luiz returned to the club on Transfer Deadline Day for £34 million, having left in June of 2014 when Paris Saint-Germain paid a world-record fee for a defender of £50 million to take him to the Parc des Princes.
Sky Sources reported that the Italian manager had seen a £38 million bid for Koulibaly rejected by Napoli during the summer, but now the Serie A club’s chairman De Laurentiis has made a claim that the Stamford Bridge side offered £58 million for the Senegalese international towards the end of the transfer window.
Speaking to Sky Sports News HQ, the Italian film producer said that Chelsea made a number of ever increasing bids for Koulibaly’s services over the summer. He said, “They offered to me £30, 35, 40, 45, 50 million. ‘Mr. Conte’, I said, ‘Marina Granovskaia, [a Chelsea director] is behind me, follow me’, I offered him that. Last moment, two days before the closing of the market, I hear £58 [million] – something like that”.
Koulibaly was born in France but has Senegalese parents and was eligible to play for either country. He did appear for the France under-20 side in 2011 but in September of 2015 changed his mind and joined the Senegal national side. He played his first game on the 5th of September 2015 during an AFCON qualifying game when Senegal beat Namibia 2-0. Conte, who not only knows players from Serie A because of his time as the Italy national manager but also because he used to manage Italian giants Juventus, has been keeping tabs on the 25-year-old since he arrived at Napoli in 2014.
De Laurentiis, who has previous experience of dealing with Chelsea’s new head coach, claims that the Blues definitely did bid £58 million for the defender but suggested that Conte will deny. When questioned on whether that was the exact amount he said, “Yes. He will never say it is true because I know Antonio. Ciao Antonio”.
After failing to secure Koulibaly’s signature the defender went on to sign a new contract with the Serie A side that will keep him at Stadio San Paolo until 2021. According to Napoli’s chairman, though, that doesn’t mean that he won’t be sold further down the line. He said, “Koulibaly I need here to make the match. I need to play, so I need the players. Koulibaly, this year, will remain here. Next year we will speak about”.
Numerous football pundits, such as Jamie Carragher and Graeme Souness, have suggested that David Luoiz is ‘not an Antonio Conte signing’, with the former Liverpool defender in particular saying, “If Antonio Conte had wanted David Luiz he would’ve got him much earlier. He’s not a Conte centre-back. He’s had out-and-out defenders at Italy and Juventus – their main job is to defend and Luiz isn’t that type of player”. De Laurentiis’ suggestions that Conte had tried to lure Koulibaly to West London backs up the suggestion that Luiz was signed by the club rather than the man in the dugout.