Connect in the back of the net

Reports suggest Napoli’s central defender Kalidou Koulibaly hasn’t signed his contract extension, and there are various clubs interested in the 24-year-old’s services. Bayern Munich, Manchester United and Chelsea have all been linked with the Senegalese international.

The French-Senegalese defender had an absolutely brilliant season under coach Sarri which has naturally got him much attention in the European market.

It will be difficult to undermine the effect Maurizio Sarri has had at Napoli after taking over from Rafa Benitez last season. Under Sarri, there is a significant improvement and perhaps the best way to illustrate that would be would be through defender Kalidou Koulibaly.

The Senegalese joined Napoli in 2014 from Racing Genk but didn’t start too well. He was often caught out of position and appeared to be positionally and tactically worrisome.

It seemed as though he would move on from the club after the end of an unsuccessful season but the changes in coach worked for him beautifully and Sarri’s decision to use him and not be influenced by what was on display last season has worked.

 

Imposing and robust

The player stands tall at 6ft 5in and has nicknamed K2 because of his imposing and robust stature. Koulibaly’s presence makes a defence taller and definitely more intimidating. In 33 league games, he has averaged 2.6 successful tackles, interceptions and aerial duels apiece every 90 minutes.

Considering he was a midfielder in his youth days at Metz, he’s good with the ball at his feet and can bring it out and help the transitions from defence and attack.

Compared to last season, there has been a massive improvement in his game and it shouldn’t be surprising. He was 23 last season and defenders begin to bloom late.

 

Interested clubs

Bayern Munich are supposedly the team in “pole position” to snap him up. However, having already acquired Hummels, they might not go for another central defender.

Manchester United have also been linked with the player and are a side that could use him. Their defence has depended upon the brilliance of David de Gea. Chris Smalling has certainly come a long way in recent seasons, and could do with an able partner at the back.

Manchester United are a massive club and were close to finishing in the top four. They still have the attraction of Europa League with them for next season.

Antonio Conte has been said to want the player at Chelsea next season, as he looks to revamp the squad that has struggled massively over the course of the recently concluded season.

Chelsea have also been linked with other top defenders in Italy, including Juventus’ Bonucci and Roma’s Manolas.

 

A standout

Koulibaly had been one of the standout players for Napoli in 2016 after having a troubled start to his time in Italy under Benitez. Under Sarri, he has regained confidence and has truly transformed.

It will be interesting to see where he goes from a successful season at Napoli. He’s enjoyed his game under Sarri but the attraction of Bayern Munich or the Premier League, where he will be definitely paid much more than he is currently getting, will probably be too difficult to resist.

 

Written by Aakriti Mehrotra

Follow Aakriti on Twitter @Aakriti1

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