Napoli owner Aurelio De Laurentiis has played down speculation of defender Kalidou Koulibaly departing this January, slapping a massive £100 million price tag on his head.
The Senegal international joined Napoli from Genk in 2014. Since then, he has become one of the world’s most sought after centre-backs following several impressive seasons for Gli Azzurri.
The 29-year-old has consistently been linked with moves away from the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona, with several of England’s biggest clubs said to be interested in securing his services. Liverpool’s injury crisis at the heart of defence only helped to reignite these rumours.
However, Napoli owner Aurelio De Laurentiis has confirmed that a transfer for Koulibaly is unlikely, setting his price at £100m.
Speaking on TalkSPORT, reporter Jim White said: “This morning, I spoke to Aurelio De Laurentiis, the Napoli owner, and said what about your player (Koulibaly), are there bids in for him?
“He laughed it off saying he’s not for sale. He’s absolutely not for sale unless one of the big clubs in England come up with £100m.”
Liverpool have endured an injury-hit campaign at the back. Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez have both been long-term absentees, while Joel Matip has also had spells on the sidelines. Youngsters Rhys Williams and Nat Phillips have had to make their Premier League debuts this season, while Fabinho and Jordan Henderson have had to fill in at centre-back.
The Senegalese defender was also heavily linked to Manchester City in the summer, although the Cityzens opted for Benfica man Ruben Dias instead. Dias’ form and the re-emergence of John Stones may have cooled Pep Guardiola’s interest in Koulibaly.
Koulibaly still has two-and-a-half years left on his contract at Napoli, leaving the club under no pressure to sell him. However, there may be concern about his value depreciating, given that he is approaching his 30s.
Jim White also confirmed that there has been no contact between Liverpool and Napoli over Serbian centre-back Nikola Maksimovic.
“I said ‘are Liverpool still interested in your defender (Maksimovic)?’ He (De Laurentiis) interrupted me to say of course with injury problems to Gomez and Van Dijk, but no they haven’t heard from them of late.”