When a non-gigantic team like Napoli has a season like the one they're having, there can be an unfortunate cost to that success. Bigger teams come sniffing around their more talented players, and the lure of bigger competition and bigger contracts can be tough to keep from taking hold. For Napoli fans, one player in particular leaves them afraid of such poaching: Kalidou Koulibaly.
The big Senegalese defender was linked to numerous potential moves away over the summer, to teams in both England and Germany. There's been something of a resurrection of those rumors over the last couple of weeks, especially since many of the clubs he was linked with in the summer -- Wolfsburg, Everton, and Southampton most notable among them -- are in even more dire need of a talented and physical center back now.
Napoli are in a good position contract-wise with Koulibaly, holding his rights until 2019 -- but given his low stature in the football world when he was signed two summers ago, his wages are low enough that any of those mentioned teams could easily tempt him away with a bigger offer. That's left many Napoli fans hoping that Koulibaly will be extended soon -- but his agent says not to worry.
Napoli has always been the first choice of [Kalidou]. He wants to stay to reach great levels in Naples, and wanted to prove to [Maurizio Sarri] to earn [a starting role].
We are not concerned [about Koulibaly's contract]. He is doing well in the field, and he is happy and motivated.
Koulibaly's agent, Bruno Satin, went on to call most of the rumors currently surrounding his client to be "baseless" and again affirmed his commitment to the team and his desire to help Napoli reach new heights.
The news is a huge sigh of relief for Napoli fans, as his departure would leave a gaping hole in their defense. While he's had a couple shaky matches this season and is often good for a "what was that" moment in most games, his overall performance level has been incredible, helping turn Napoli's defense into a brick wall that few have been able to break down. While Napoli have a couple other capable defenders in Raul Albiol and Vlad Chiriches, replacing the things that Koulibaly does on the pitch would not be easy to do.
Here's to hoping that we're just at the start of a very long, very productive career for Koulibaly in Naples.