Team like Napoli often have to spend their summers fending off bids for their best players, and this summer looks to be no different. Liverpool have reportedly made a €41 million offer for Kalidou Koulibaly, a bid that Napoli soundly rejected and don’t seem to intend to humor.
The bid isn’t a small one by any means, but it’s a full €10 million shy of what Chelsea offered for Koulibaly a year ago, and some €20 million short of what the London club are believed to be willing to pay for Koulibaly this summer. There’s no reason for Napoli to even consider a bid smaller than that, and while Liverpool certainly have the means to make such a bid, whether or not they will remains to be seen.
Of course, Liverpool were just very publicly humiliated a couple of weeks ago in the Virgil van Dijk saga, where a rumored €55 million transfer was blown up because it turned out they went to the player first and not to Southampton — the team that actually, you know, employed him. They have some serious need in defense and want to make up for that failure in a big, splashy way, so it wouldn’t be shocking in the slightest to see Liverpool come in for a defender like Koulibaly who can do them a whole lot of good.
So the question, then, is should Napoli sell him? Obviously, in a vacuum they’re better with Koulibaly than they are without him. But say Liverpool offer €60 million for him — what do Napoli do? They have several other solid central defenders in Niko Maksimovic, Lorenzo Tonelli, and yes, even Vlad Chiriches, but they lack that impact defender in the middle that you need at this level if they don’t have a Kalidou Koulibaly.
But with €60 million in their pocket, they can go out and spend half of that on someone to hopefully replace him, then use the other half on a couple other players to help improve the team elsewhere in areas of need. Like, say, a future starting goalkeeper and a reserve right winger. Those seem useful.
But even with those pieces, there’s no guarantee Napoli can replace the production that Koulibaly has given them since his rise to prominence. Any transfer they make will net a significant profit on the €7 million they paid Genk to get him in 2014, but this sport isn’t just about profit. It’s about quality on the pitch, and Napoli have to be very sure they can improve the team’s overall quality in a notable way if they decide to sell Koulibaly, be it to Liverpool or Chelsea or anywhere else.