Clubs interested in signing Napoli star defender Kalidou Koulibaly will have no choice but to pay his €150m (£130m) release clause as the Italian club have no intention of selling, head coach Carlo Ancelotti has said.
The Senegalese defender is linked with the likes of Manchester United, one of few European ‘super-clubs’ with the finances to meet such a valuation along with the need to do so.
Could Koulibaly join Man Utd? Five things you should know…
- Manchester United are known to be looking for a central defender.
- Statistics suggest Kalidou Koulibaly, who has played 1,944 successful passes this season, is Serie A’s best ball-playing defender.
- His current deal runs until 2023, having extended his contract in 2018.
- Napoli says they are not looking to sell the Senegalese international.
- But they have confirmed a £130m release clause in Koulibaly’s contract will kick in for 2021.
United were linked with a whole host of central defenders last summer under Jose Mourinho and in January but unable to sign any of their targets.
Mourinho was deeply unhappy with the summer business and, in particular, the lack of defensive reinforcements.
United have played Matic at centre-back this season on occasion, such is the shortfall, but this summer they are expected to go all guns blazing in the transfer market in order to close the gap between themselves and rivals Liverpool and Manchester City.
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Signing Koulibaly would be a huge step towards that goal, but Napoli coach Ancelotti insists the club does not need to sell the ‘best centre-back in the world’.
According to Tuttosport, Ancelotti, when asked if Koulibaly is the best centre-back in the world, said: “Yes. And he has more room for improvement. He’s worth €150 million and he is non-transferable.”
Ancelotti also confirmed a €150m release clause due to kick in after two years’ time.
The former AC Milan boss added: “Koulibaly’s contract will expire in 2023. In 2021, he will have a €150 million release clause, but Napoli do not need to sell, the president does not want to sell and the question does not arise.”
Napoli look assured of Champions League football next season despite trailing Juventus by a massive 17 points in the table. They currently have a seven-point buffer between themselves and Inter in third while they are also a further five clear of AC Milan.
Is Kalidou Koulibaly the best centre-back in the world?
Ancelotti may be accused of ‘bigging up’ his own player, but does he have a point when he names Koulibaly as the best defender the world has to offer?
Liverpool and Barcelona supporters would likely disagree, with both clubs home to world-class talents in the form of Virgil van Dijk and Gerard Pique, but Koulibaly has long been a real force at the top level of Italian football.
The Senegal international has been named in the Serie A Team of the Year for the last three consecutive seasons. Over this period, he has maintained a 90% pass completion rate despite attempting around 1,000 more passes than any other defender in Italy’s top flight.
At 27, the same age as Van Dijk, if Koulibaly were to join United, Solskjaer would have a defender he can build success with over many years.