This may have been one of the most emotionally satisfying transfer windows of all time, but for the longest time it was promising to be one of the most frustrating instead. In fact, if we look back in a few days, once all the David Luiz dopamine has dissipated, we may yet remember all the rejected bids and false leads, especially when it came to center backs based in Serie A.
First and foremost of them was Kalidou Koulibaly, who, by all indications, was our primary target for defensive reinforcements this summer. Rumors claimed multiple rounds of bidding from Chelsea, starting at £30m and going up by increments as Napoli continued to string us along by repeatedly raising their asking price.
As the hour grew increasingly desperate, rumors of bids upwards of £60m appeared, while other sources claimed that Chelsea were willing to go no higher than £43m. Nobody really knew what was going, I suspect. With that in mind, here's Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis with the final reveal.
"We bought Tonelli and Maksimovic not because we didn't believe in our own, but ahead of the AFCON [held in early 2017]. Tonelli had already played with Sarri, and we had tried to get Maksimovic for nearly two years. But the defense was already well equipped. It's just not a rumor that Chelsea offered more than 50 million for [Koulibaly], it's true we rejected it."
-Aureli De Laurentiis; source: Radio Kiss Kiss via Italian Football Daily
ADL may be a bit of a Bond villain, but there's little reason not to believe him, just like when he revealed that Chelsea never actually bid for Cavani way back in the day. Or maybe there's every reason to not believe him, given his aforementioned status of operating from his secret underground lair inside Mt. Vesuvius. Either way, the 50m (assuming Euros) matches the £43m max offer rumor from the Telegraph and others.
I suppose the moral of the story, as we should've already learned last summer, is that you can't really buy something that's not for sale. At least not unless you're willing to throw limitless funds at it, which we clearly weren't going to do. The Koulibaly money (plus a bit of change) was eventually turned into two players, who do fill two needs. While I'm generally a proponent of spending big on one higher quality player than on many lower quality players, in this case, this has been a more than acceptable outcome.
(David Luiz is priceless, after all.)