Kalidou Koulibaly’s strong performances in the last few campaigns have led to persistent speculation linking him with a move away from Napoli.
Since he joined the club from Genk in 2014, he has established himself as one of the best defenders in the world. He has helped Napoli challenge Juventus at the top of Serie A and his performances have caused many of Europe’s elite to take notice of him.
Here’s a rundown of the teams that he’s been linked with and the likelihood of him joining each of them.
PSG are reportedly interested in bringing Koulibaly to the French capital this summer. Despite once again winning Ligue 1 PSG had an otherwise disappointing season, failing to progress past the round of 16 of the Champions League and suffering shock defeats in the Coupe de la Ligue and Coupe de France.
Their defensive frailties were exposed in their Champions League exit to Manchester United where they committed a series of elementary defensive errors.
While they have talented young defenders at the club such as Marquinhos, Thilo Kehrer and Presnel Kimpembe, none of these players are in their prime like Koulibaly and they definitely do not possess his quality.
PSG’s defence has cracked under the pressure of big Champions League games in recent years and the Senegal international could supply them with the solidity and composure they need in these fixtures.
The French champions should be able to make Koulibaly one of the highest paid defenders in world football but the lack of competition that they have in Ligue 1 may dissuade him from joining them.
Likelihood rating: 4/10
Barcelona have also shown an interest in signing the 27-year-old.
Whilst they have been heavily linked with a move for Ajax’s Mattijs de Ligt in recent months and the deal looked a foregone conclusion at one point, the Dutchman has now been linked to other clubs.
With this in mind, the La Liga champions may turn their attention to Koulibaly.
Barcelona have failed to reach the Champions League final since winning it in 2015 and by their very high standards this must be a disappointment. For two seasons in a row they have collapsed in the second leg of ties away from home that have got them knocked out of the competition. Following their defeat to Roma last year they infamously lost 4-0 to Liverpool at Anfield in the semi-finals this season.
In both these instances Barcelona’s defence caved under the pressure of hostile away atmospheres and signing a proven world-class defender like Koulibaly will help remedy this.
Koulibaly would provide their defence with the robustness and physicality which they do not currently have whilst he also has the ball-playing ability which La Blaugrana require of their defenders.
However, it is clear that De Ligt is Barcelona’s first-choice defensive signing this summer and for this reason it is unlikely we will be seeing Koulibaly at the Camp Nou next season.
Likelihood rating: 5/10
Following the retirement of long-serving Andrea Barzagli, there is a vacancy in the Juventus defence.
Whilst the Serie A champions still have one of the best defensive partnerships in world football in Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini, their next expected managerial appointment may drastically increase their chances of signing Koulibaly.
The Senegal international’s former manager at Napoli and current Chelsea boss Maurizio Sarri is expected to be Massimiliano Allegri’s successor. If this does happen then Juventus may make an effort to sign Koulibaly and back their new manager by bringing in one of his former favourites.
However, Napoli chairman Aurelio De Laurentiis is a stubborn negotiator and with Koulibaly already having a reported £100m price tag, he would likely demand a much higher fee from Juventus considering they are one of Gli Azzurri’s biggest rivals.
Juventus may be dissuaded from making an offer for these reasons but the possible appointment of Sarri may change this.
Likelihood rating: 6/10
Real Madrid are also said to be looking to secure Koulibaly’s services this summer.
Signing Koulibaly will go a long way to fixing Real’s defensive issues whilst the Senegalese could feasibly step into the shoes of Sergio Ramos. He possesses the defensive awareness, pace and tenacity of the Spaniard whilst also having a much calmer temperament.
However, the scrutiny at Real is unforgiving and standards are incredibly high. Koulibaly may decide that he is better suited away from such a ruthless environment where players are given little time to impress.
Also, with Ramos announcing that he will be staying at the club, Koulibaly may find that opportunities for first-team football here may be limited.
Likelihood rating: 7/10
The club that has undoubtedly has had the strongest links to Koulibaly is Manchester United.
It is no secret that
Koulibaly is a cut above from anyone United currently have and he would provide leadership, composure and a talismanic presence in defence which the club has badly needed for years.
However, with Napoli sticking to their £100m price tag for Koulibaly, the club may look elsewhere in search of central defenders as they have had their fingers burnt with big-money signings in recent years.
Furthermore, there is also the fact that
Likelihood rating: 8/10