Soccer NewsTuesday 17th October 2017

Chelsea face battle to land €60m-rated defensive rock, Barcelona eye move

Chelsea face battle to land €60m-rated defensive rock, Barcelona eye move

Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly has established himself as one of the top centre-halves in Serie A, and so reports of interest from Chelsea and Barcelona aren’t a surprise.

The 26-year-old arrived in Italy in 2014 after stints in Belgium and France, and has taken his game to the next level with Napoli, particularly under Maurizio Sarri.

While the Partenopei sit atop the Serie A table, much is made of their brilliant attacking options which include the likes of Dries Mertens, Lorenzo Insigne and Jose Callejon.

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However, they’ve conceded just five goals so far this season and had the third best defensive record in the Italian top flight last year. While that’s not entirely down to Koulibaly, the commanding and powerful centre-back is certainly a big reason as to why they’ve been so difficult to break down.

He’s been an ever-present for Sarri so far this season and he’s shown his goal threat too with two goals in eight league games. The problem for Napoli though is that interest from elsewhere refuses to go away.

According to Mundo Deportivo, Barcelona have now joined Chelsea in the race to sign him, while it’s claimed that it could take a bid of up to €60m to now prise him away from Napoli.

Chelsea haven’t been particularly solid at the back this season, conceding eight goals in eight games in the Premier League. With Gary Cahill receiving criticism for poor performances, it also falls on the likes of David Luiz and Antonio Rudiger, and so perhaps Antonio Conte may feel that he still needs to strengthen in that department.

With regards to Barcelona, Gerard Pique turns 31 next February and may need to be replaced in the long-term, but that shouldn’t really be a priority for the Catalan giants as he still has plenty left to offer.

Samuel Umtiti has impressed and is still just 23 years of age, but perhaps that’s not enough for Barca who need strength in depth and quality across the board to compete on various fronts and it appears as though they now have their eyes on Koulibaly.

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