Napoli chief Aurelio de Laurentiis has told potential suitors that Kalidou Koulibaly will only leave for £81million this summer.
But that is only half the story as the Napoli owner seeks a world record fee for a defender to part with the highly-rated Senegalese international.
Koulibaly, 29, has spent six years in Naples.
But he has been expected to depart this summer, with the Partenopei not in next season’s Champions League – unless they win this year’s competition next month.
Both Manchester United and Manchester City have been linked with a potential move – perhaps most notably Pep Guardiola’s side, as they seek a partner for Aymeric Laporte. Chelsea too, with Frank Lampard wanting to stiffen up his defence.
However amid suggestions that the coronavirus crisis and no Champions League money could see Napoli look to cash in at a lower price, De Laurentiis insists they will stand firm.
“Kalidou is a wonderful person and of course it’d be sad to lose him,” the Napoli chief told Sky Italia.
“Everything has a time and a place, even when it comes to going our separate ways.
“Having said that, we don’t have €90m (£81m) on the table and in any case, it takes two to separate.”
It appears the old hand is attempting to maximise his profit, as you would expect.
He knows that if he’s to get the most possible for Koulibaly then this summer really is his last chance.
Back in June, De Laurentiis was seeking £90million. As time goes by, that figure is slowly coming down. How much further will it go?
For his part, Koulibaly has made clear that he isn’t asking to leave. Not, seemingly, does he particularly want to.
And he has even stated that, he is getting somewhat annoyed about the constant speculation, while he only thinks of playing once again.
“In football, you never know what happens. I never spoke to Napoli about leaving,” he told Gazzetta dello Sport this week.
“If we have to find a solution, we will find it, but I have never talked about the transfer market.
“I also read in the newspapers about my future. But I only want to think about playing, I am 100 per cent [committed to] Napoli and it bothers me to be linked, every day, to this or that European club.
“We will see what the president will decide and if he proposes to extend my contract, that would allow me to end my career here.
“At the moment, I still have a three-year contract and I am not thinking of anything else but Napoli.”
As it stands, Koulibaly seems content where he is. Noises of his exit don’t especially come from he and his camp either.
However, should an offer give De Laurentiis precisely what he wants, then the defensive man mountain may well be ushered out the exit door – regardless of whether he’s happy to remain.
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