The winter break and the January transfer window aren’t just good times to buy and sell players, they’re also a great time to work on contract extensions. So amid news that Napoli are working on deals for Dries Mertens and Lorenzo Insigne, it’s welcome news that they’re working on a deal for left back Faouzi Ghoulam as well. What’s less welcome, however, is that there are some issues in those negotiations, and it seems to largely be thanks to transfer interest in Ghoulam from a few big teams like Chelsea, Bayern Munich, and Paris Saint-Germain.
A sometimes-underloved part of the Napoli squad, Ghoulam’s defensive qualities and ability to support the attack have been huge ever since he joined the team three years ago. This season he’s been better than ever, but that comes with pitfalls — such as drawing the attention and interest of teams interested in adding a quality left back who isn’t pushing 30.
With Ghoulam’s contract slowly winding down -- he only has one more year remaining after this season — it’s imperative for Napoli to get him tied down to a new long-term deal as soon as possible. Once a player’s contract runs down to a year, teams are basically forced to sell for a discount or see the player walk away, and that’s not something Napoli want to have happen to a player as valuable to the squad as Ghoulam.
To that end, they’ve reportedly offered him a deal with almost €2 million per season, a figure that would more than double Ghoulam’s current salary. But the Algerian international is dragging his heels and asking for a figure of €2.5 million per season, which would more than triple his current wages and is a number that Napoli have, reportedly, hesitated to match.
That large counter-offer comes on the heels of reports of transfer interest from Chelsea, PSG, and Bayern, which makes the entire thing seem rather curiously timed. To be blunt, it smacks of his agent leaking false or thin-at-best rumors for the sake of negotiation leverage, which is common enough these days but not exactly something fans would call ... pleasant.
If there is one team in there to be worried about, though, it’s Paris Saint-Germain. They and Napoli obviously have a fairly decent relationship (miss you, Cavani...), and with Ghoulam having spent most of his life in France and being a clear upgrade to their current left back, Layvin Kurzawa, it would hardly be shocking to see the Parisiens make an offer to bring him in.
These are certainly nervous times for Napoli fans who want to see Ghoulam stay long-term. It does still seem most likely that he’ll stay where he is for now, but this is definitely a situation that bears close monitoring.