Napoli are reported to have told surprise suitors Liverpool of the price they would accept for Kalidou Koulibaly after the Senegalese defensive beast was linked with a move to Anfield.
The Senegalese international, 28, has developed into one of the world’s premier centre-halves during his time in Naples.
Colossal performances have seen his name linked with a blockbuster switch to some of Europe’s heavy hitters, with a world record fee for a defender often touted as being required to seal the deal.
However, it was claimed last week that Napoli were ready to accept a deflated £70m fee for the defender and that Liverpool sporting director Michael Edwards had already held talks over a prospective deal that would see him line up alongside Virgil van Dijk in a formidable defensive partnership.
But reports of a cut-price £70m exit have been quickly dashed, according to la Gazzetta dello Sport, with Napoli responding to claims of Liverpool’s interest by slapping a ‘minimum £90m fee’ on the defender – a fee that would represent a world-record fee for a defender.
That’s a fee that would more than likely rule Liverpool out – especially given reports this weekend that suggested a frugal transfer stance would be adopted by Anfield chiefs this summer.
However, Gazzetta are adamant that Liverpool remain keen on signing Koulibaly and it’s now also suggested that the Reds could send Napoli two players in the opposite direction to help drive the cost down, with both Joel Matip and Dejan Lovren offered as makeweights in a bid to tempt Napoli.
The pair have been in and out of Jurgen Klopp’s side this season, though it appears Joe Gomez is the man that Van Dijk himself most likes playing alongside.
Quite how much truth there is to reported three-way swap remains to be seen, though Tuttomercatoweb further these claims by saying Klopp and Edwards are growing particularly ‘strong’ to the notion of bringing Koulibaly to Anfield and believe it would give the Premier League champions-elect the basis to challenge on all fronts in the season ahead.
As per Gazzetta, however, Liverpool would not have a clear path to Koulibaly, with the defender also said to be wanted by PSG and Real Madrid, despite the steep asking price.
However, with the European champions having made what has been described as ‘first contact’ with Senegal star, and with Koulibaly good friends with Sadio Mane, it’s claimed it very much remains advantage Liverpool.
Truth be told though, the prospective signing of Koulibaly leaving for £90m this summer – and especially given the player is coming off the back of something of an injury-hit season – appears highly unlikely.