Exclusive - Manchester City are stepping up their interest in Napoli centre back Kalidou Koulibaly, while Chelsea could yet rival Pep Guardiola's side for the Senegal star over the coming weeks.
Despite the recent £40m purchase of Nathan Ake, City are still in the market for another centre-back to strengthen an area of the team that became a weakness this season. The club are also ready to move on both Nicolas Otamendi and John Stones if the opportunity arises.
Chelsea, meanwhile, feel they lack a world class centre-back. And even though substantial sums have already been spent on Hakim Ziyech and Timo Werner, with Kai Havertz also increasingly expected to make the switch to Stamford Bridge, 90min has been informed that the money is still available for the Blues to buy their preferred targets at centre-back and left-back – fees would be structured in instalments, as is often the case with most deals.
Napoli Ready to Sell Kouliably
Where Koulibaly is concerned, 90min understands that the 29-year-old has been given permission from Napoli to find his next club. That has led his representatives to indicate to potential suitors that they are ready to begin discussing terms over a transfer.
Recent Italian reports of City making bids were premature, but the club do have serious interest. Koulibaly is generally considered to be the best ‘ready made’ centre-back in the world at this moment in time and both City and Chelsea sign up to that way of thinking.
Inter’s Milan Skriniar, who is four years younger and therefore has more long-term value, is an alternative option that City and Chelsea are considering. Koulibaly, however, is their first choice.
Koulibaly is the commanding presence Pep Guardiola wants to start regularly alongside Aymeric Laporte in Manchester, with the aforementioned Ake to be a reliable rotation option.
How Much Are Napoli Asking for Koulibaly?
Despite no formal bid just yet, City have opened talks with Napoli over a transfer fee. The hope at the Etihad Stadium is that they can negotiate a deal worth £60m. However, it is short of Napoli’s value, with Chelsea’s rival interest also having the potential to push the price up.
Even though Napoli president Aurelio de Laurentiis publicly commented to the Italian media in early August that he is seeking an offer of €90m (£81m) to part with Koulibaly, sources believe the Serie A side will do business for around £70m. That is still more than City are currently looking to pay, but significantly less than the sky high £100m+ price tags set in the last two summers.
Napoli themselves are already making efforts to source a replacement at Stadio San Paolo and have highly-rated Lille centre-back Gabriel Magalhaes on their radar.
Liverpool & Manchester United Stance on Koulibaly
However, that stance could change for the latter, who do want another centre-back, if they are able to successfully sell both Chris Smalling and Phil Jones in the coming few weeks.