Napoli Reportedly Rejected €70M Barcelona Bid for Kalidou KoulibalyNovember 1, 2018
Barcelona have reportedly had a €70 million (£61.9 million) offer for Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly turned down.
The Catalan giants have been among the major sides linked with Koulibaly in recent years, but La Gazzetta dello Sport (h/t Calciomercato.com) reported their first approach was rejected.
Napoli owner Aurelio De Laurentiis spoke to Radio Kiss Kiss (h/t Football Italia) in July and said he dismissed a €100 million bid for the player from an unnamed Premier League team. Football Italia noted Chelsea and Manchester United were the two most strongly linked English outfits at the time.
Koulibaly, 27, is another success story to have come through the doors of Belgian outfit Genk, who have also had Kevin De Bruyne, Thibaut Courtois, Sergej Milinkovic-Savic and Leon Bailey on their books in recent years.
He joined Napoli in 2014 and has been the team's most consistent force in defence since then. Football writer David Amoyal recently illustrated the impact that could be felt if he left:
Barcelona signed Clement Lenglet from Sevilla this past summer after triggering his relatively modest €35 million release clause—an affordable sum for reliable cover behind Gerard Pique and Samuel Umtiti.
The latter of those, Umtiti, has been sidelined for the past month with a knee injury, but he is hoping to return in November, reported Luis F. Rojo of Marca.
Koulibaly, meanwhile, is the only player to have started all 10 Serie A games for Napoli this season, and Statman Dave highlighted him as one of Carlo Ancelotti's most impressive stars in their recent 1-0 defeat of Liverpool:
He's in no major rush to leave Naples, but he recently described the emotions he's bound to feel when he leaves—if that day ever comes.
Speaking to Corriere dello Sport (h/t Calciomercato.com), Koulibaly said:
"My caretaker keeps telling me: 'You cry twice in Naples, when you arrive and when you leave.' I always reply: 'I didn't cry when I arrived, but I will cry a lot the day that I will leave If I'll ever leave.'
"I am happy in Naples. Sometimes people speak badly but they don't know how it feels to leave here. If you don't live here you can't understand."
It seems likely Thomas Vermaelen, 33 in November, will leave the Camp Nou when his contract expires at the end of this season, and manager Ernesto Valverde will likely have one eye on the future of Pique.
The Spain international has a contract until the summer of 2022, but Pique turns 32 in February and has shown some errors this season that suggest he could be on a downward trajectory.
Nevertheless, sports writer Andrew Gaffney tipped him as one of Barca's most crucial figures:
Andrew Gaffney @GaffneyVLC
@ZachLowy The problem is Barcelona function best without heavy rotation. Or rather, the players who need a break, cannot be replaced (Alba, Piqué, Busquets, Messi, Suárez). It’s the backup brigade who need to consistently shine when given a chance, not simply in brief flashes.
Lenglet has done a good job for Barca in the absence of French compatriot Umtiti, but Koulibaly would be a statement signing and an investment for years to come.
The Senegal international is highly valued in Naples, however, and convincing tough negotiator De Laurentiis to part ways with his prized star won't come cheaply.