Barcelona are reportedly interested in Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly as they look to bolster their defensive ranks in the summer.
According to the print edition of the Italian newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport, as described by Fichajes, Barcelona are considering a potential summer swoop for Napoli and Senegal defender Kalidou Koulibaly.
The 30-year-old has been with Napoli for almost eight years now, having first signed from KRC Genk in 2014. During his time with the Partenopei, he has developed into one of the most reliable and solid defenders across Europe. He has made over 300 appearances for the Italian outfit, while he has also earned 57 caps for the Senegalese national team.
Koulibaly had endured a slight dip in performance levels not long ago due to injuries but has returned to his usual level this term, helping Napoli mount a strong Serie A title challenge. He also won the Africa Cup of Nations with his national team recently.
For the longest time, Koulibaly has been linked with an exit from Napoli, with many elite clubs showing interest in him in the past. However, club chairman Aurelio De Laurentiis’s exorbitant valuations have meant that the 30-year-old has stayed put at the Diego Armando Maradona Stadium.
Koulibaly will be entering the final year of his contract with Napoli at the end of the season, which has sparked speculations around his future. The Senegalese centre-half was linked with a move to Everton in January, but it fell through. Now, according to the report, Barcelona are also in the fray to capture the signing of the imposing defender.
Barcelona will be in the market for defensive reinforcements later this year to build a more solid base for the team. Gerard Pique is in the final phase of his career and has not been consistent enough, while new signing Eric Garcia has also flattered to deceive. With Samuel Umtiti and Clement Lenglet facing uncertain futures, a new defender will be a necessary addition at Camp Nou next summer.
Koulibaly, to that end, can be a handy asset for the Blaugrana, at least in a short-term sense. The 30-year-old is vastly experienced at this level and has proven himself to be a capable leader. A player who is comfortable playing out from the back and can be an imposing physical presence, the Napoli star would add much value to this Barcelona side.
Barcelona are believed to have asked about the potential availability of Koulibaly this summer. The report states that De Laurentiis will likely lower his demands from the €60 million he was asking for the experienced defender in the past. However, Napoli will push to extend his contract and have already offered a €6 million-a-year deal, which the centre-half is yet to accept.
Whether Barcelona can convince him to leave the Partenopei in the summer and move to Catalonia remains to be seen.