Premier League • England

Chelsea, Man Utd gifted golden Koulibaly transfer chance after Napoli stance finally softens

Chelsea and Man Utd have been given all the encouragement they need to sign Kalidou Koulibaly after a report revealed Napoli’s new outlook on a sale.

The Senegalese ace, 30, has forever been linked with a move out of Naples and to the Premier League. Manchester United and Chelsea have drawn the most frequent links with the Napoli colossus. One look at their respective squads right now explains why links have continued to emerge in recent times.

Indeed, Caught Offside claimed earlier in May that Koulibaly was part one of a double Chelsea coup aimed at overhauling their defence.

Antonio Rudiger and Andreas Christensen are poised to leave for free. Cesar Azpilicueta and Marcos Alonso could soon follow them out of Stamford Bridge.

United, meanwhile, have been heavily linked with signing an upgrade on Harry Maguire. Ajax pair Jurrien Timber and Lisandro Martinez were the latest to be mentioned and both have connections to incoming boss Erik ten Hag.

But before Ten Hag’s appointment was finalised, United were put in the frame to sign Koulibaly this summer by the Italian press.

The centre-back’s current contract expires in 2023 and at present, there is little sign of an extension being agreed.

That makes this summer the perfect time for Napoli to cash in. Per Calciomercato, that’s exactly what they might do.

Why Koulibaly has never left Napoli explained

Firstly, the outlet explain why Koulibaly has never been snapped up by a bigger club in the past. Napoli have always taken a hard-line approach to negotiations and demanded record-breaking fees no suitors were prepared to pay.

Indeed, United reportedly saw an offer of around £91m knocked back the summer before they forked out £80m on Maguire. Chelsea boss Tuchel later saw a significant approach rebuffed when manager of PSG.

But with his contract running down, Calciomercato state Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis is now prepared to sever ties for just €35m (£29.5m). Koulibaly will turn 31 in June, though there is little sign his talents are diminishing.

He remains a world class operator in Naples and the report cites a recent interview where he claimed he remains happy in the city.

Chelsea target Kalidou Koulibaly

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

However, he did acknowledge his future is now uncertain when addressing the reasons why he has never moved on before.

“There is also the price claimed by the president,” Koulibaly said regarding previous failed bids. “Sometimes it was too high for some clubs and blocked negotiations. We’ll see what happens at the end of the season.”

One obstacle potentially in Chelsea or Man Utd’s way is Barcelona. Xavi’s side will be entrenched in any saga if Koulibaly does depart, though they need to raise funds first.

Chelsea or Man Utd – who fits best?

Despite the fact he remains at the top of his game, his age cannot be overlooked. He’ll be 31 in June, meaning the back three system Tuchel deploys at Chelsea may be a better fit in the longer term.

Indeed, Thiago Silva has been a revelation at Stamford Bridge and any slight weaknesses he has aged 36 can be covered up in a three.

It stands to reason prising Koulibaly out of Napoli will result in at least a three-year deal signed. The prospect of lining up a 34-year-old centre-back in a two-man defence is an appealing one.

What’s more, Chelsea’s need for defensive reinforcements is already looking the greater. Given Tuchel’s back three system, he arguably needs six centre-halves to ensure he is not caught short.

If the mooted exits do materialise, he will enter next season with just Thiago Silva, Trevoh Chalobah and Malang Sarr as his recognised options.

Reece James has deputised on the right side, though at least two new faces will need to be brought in. Koulibaly would go a long way to ensuring the likes of Rudiger aren’t the miss some Chelsea fans might fear.