While fans get excited about potential arrivals for Napoli, one departure looms large. It looks like the Kalidou Koulibaly era is coming to an end, as Napoli are set to meet with Everton to discuss a transfer believed to be worth €45 million that would see Koulibaly wind up on Merseyside in England.
A move to England had seemed fated for Koulibaly for a couple of weeks, though it was to a different team in a dark blue shirt. Chelsea had been believed to be working on a €40 million transfer for the Senegalese international, but a few days ago Everton apparently swept in and outbid the London club.
Everton seem like an odd fit for Koulibaly in truth, though it's easy to see why they'd want a defender of his quality. Their defensive depth is bad overall, but in the center it's downright horrid, with only John Stones being a particularly good player, and he was often dreadful last season. Phil Jagielka was once very good, but now is too old to be relied on, and Ramiro Funes Mori is a walking red card. Everton badly need Koulibaly, and if that means outbidding Chelsea to get him, so be it.
It also helps their case that Everton's new manager, Ronald Koeman, has long shown an appreciation for powerful and athletic defenders like Koulibaly, and has often gotten excellent results from them. When faced with the choice to go to Chelsea and Antonio Conte or Everton and Koeman, Everton might actually be the better fit for him on a developmental level.
Still, it's hard to see Chelsea just sitting on the sidelines. Yes, Everton have that massive EPL TV money to throw around and a desperate need for defenders, but so too do Chelsea, and they have infinitely larger sponsorship moneys to pull from as well. They can out-bid any personal contract offered to Koulibaly as well, and their need for a defender like him is just as pronounced. Plus, while Chelsea can't offer Champions League football this season, they are much more likely to make it back in the very near future than Everton are, and that's always appealing to players.
Right now it looks like Everton are the closest team to signing Koulibaly from Napoli, but don't count Chelsea out yet. It doesn't seem like we've heard nearly the last from them in this particular transfer saga.