Chelsea

Chelsea

Premier League • England

Chelsea and Juventus both hatch Koulibaly plan with major ramifications for Arsenal ace Arteta cannot lose

Napoli centre-back Kalidou Koulibaly

Chelsea are chasing Kalidou Koulibaly whose agent is in talks with the Blues, and his potential arrival at Stamford Bridge could leave Arsenal vulnerable to Juventus, per a report.

Thomas Tuchel is still on the hunt for defensive reinforcements. The twin exits of Antonio Rudiger and Andreas Christensen have left Chelsea light at the back.

Nathan Ake is the man Chelsea have seemingly settled on for the left centre-back role. The fee Man City would receive remains under deliberation, though the player has reportedly agreed personal terms already.

The situation at right centre-back is far less clear.

Juventus’ Matthijs de Ligt has emerged as Chelsea’s primary target. However, De Ligt is being valued around the £76m mark and competition is coming from Bayern Munich.

Indeed, Fabrizio Romano recently reported Bayern chief, Hasan Salihamidžić, had travelled to Turin to discuss a De Ligt transfer.

If De Ligt winds up in Bavaria, both Chelsea and Juventus will be seeking a new, right-footed centre-back. According to Italian source Gianluca Di Marzio, the two clubs are fixing their gaze on Kalidou Koulibaly.

The Napoli colossus is now 31, though remains an elite level operator. Koulibaly has just one year remaining on his deal in Naples. Di Marzio states he has an offer on the table from Napoli, though he may finally be tempted by a blockbuster move elsewhere.

In that regard, Juventus and Chelsea are both reportedly in the mix. What’s more, the report states Koulibaly’s agent, Fali Ramadani, is in discussions with Chelsea.

Given the Senegalese’s contract status, the Sun report he could be available for around £34m mark. That could represent excellent value for a defender who has been one of Europe’s finest since arriving at Napoli in 2014.

Koulibaly deal could affect Arsenal

If De Ligt does join Bayern and Chelsea move for Koulibaly, the odd team out will be Juventus.

The Italian side will need to replace De Ligt and Di Marzio lists four alternative targets they could fill the void with, including an Arsenal ace.

Gabriel Magalhaes has continued to draw links with Juve in recent weeks. Indeed, reports on Sunday claimed contact had been made with Arsenal.

The Gunners have resisted any and all approaches thus far, though Juventus will have money to burn if De Ligt departs. What’s more, the lure of playing Champions League football could appeal.

The other targets rounding out Juventus’ shortlist are Gleison Bremer, Pau Torres and Benoît Badiashile.

Arsenal cannot lose Gabriel

The 24-year-old formed a fine partnership with Ben White last term. William Saliba looks on course to remain in north London this season, though if one were to be ousted, it would likely be White.

Indeed, Gabriel is the only left-footed centre-half at Arteta’s disposal. That explains why the Gunners have been chasing Lisandro Martinez who can operate at left centre-back, left-back or holding midfield.

Chelsea target Kalidou Koulibaly

Chelsea are looking into Napoli's Kalidou Koulibaly as their search for a defender continues.

There has been zero indication Arsenal would be open to cashing in on Gabriel. As such, an exit would likely only materialise if the player pushed for a move and Juve’s offer was too good to ignore.

Yet with the new season now less than a month away, the thought of Arsenal selling a guaranteed starter is an unpalatable one.

Not only would their starting eleven be weakened, but time would be against them to find an adequate replacement.