Want another downside to the never-ending "negotiations" for Napoli to try to land Nikola Maksimovic? If they pull it off somehow, it's almost certainly going to cost them Kalidou Koulibaly.
Napoli have received an offer for the big French defender worth €12 million from Southampton that the club are, apparently, inclined to accept. They are in "advanced negotiations" with the defender-needy English club, but want to hold off finalizing the deal just yet, because they want to have Maksimovic secured first. According to reports, signing Maksimovic -- or presumably a different, equally-talented defender -- would "release" Koulibaly to head to Southampton.
It's a bizarre decision on the surface -- Koulibaly spent long stretches of last season as Napoli's best defender, and he looks like he has the potential to be monstrously good. Why on earth would Napoli want to get rid of him?
Unfortunately, there's two realities at play that might lead Napoli to be willing to sell him: a new manager with a new system, and the overarching annoyance that is Financial Fair Play.
Maurizio Sarri has typically favored defenders who are a bit quicker and more technically-oriented, and more comfortable with the ball at his feet, much like Maksimovic or Vlad Chiriches. Koulibaly isn't bad at any of those things, but he's probably not quite at the level Sarri wants him to be at. He's closer to the "battering ram defender" mold with his size and power, and that's not something Sarri's used much in his career as a manager.
Financial Fair Play also plays a big role here -- with lots of spending and little money coming back in this summer, Napoli's net spend is over €30 million right now, a higher mark than it's been in years without a significant sale to help fund the incoming transfers. It's easier to stomach that big a net spend when you sold over €70 million worth of players in a summer -- when you've sold less than €2 million worth, that's a different problem. We'll go into this in more detail later on, but the short story is this: for Napoli to buy more players, which they need to, they'll have to sell first, and likely will have to sell at least one fan favorite like Koulibaly.
That's the cold reality of not being a big-money team in Europe, especially when you miss out on the Champions League (thanks for that, Rafa, even if you think you "did your best"). Sometimes, for the good of the team, someone you want to see spend the rest of their career with Napoli has to leave. It's a shame, but, well, so's life sometimes. Hopefully if this pans out, Koulibaly does well in the Premier League. He certainly seems suited to it.