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Napoli set Kalidou Koulibaly price as Chelsea prepare bid

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After a stellar season that has raised his stock to international standard levels where all the big boys of European football are taking notice, center back Kalidou Koulibaly may or may not be looking for a new and improved contract at Napoli.  He also may or may not be looking to move, especially if he doesn't get his wishes.  Sure, he wants to play Champions League football, but he also wants to get paid.  At least I'm presuming that's how the motivational forces behind these recent rumors linking the 24-year-old with Chelsea (and others like Manchester United) are playing out.

But if Chelsea's interest is real — we were supposedly just mulling over a potential bid last time around — it looks like we now have a price target to aim for.

...the Partenopei are expected to demand as much as €30 million should negotiations take place in the coming weeks.

-source: Gazzetta World

That's certainly no bargain, though Koulibaly appears to be no ordinary center back with his impressive combination of size, speed, strength, and skills.  But for the prices involved, this cannot be just another Papy Djilobodji (coincidentally an international teammate of Koulibaly's) or Michael Hector random moonshot.  This needs to matter and make an impact.

On the plus side, unlike the massive transfers we're supposedly considering at the other end of the pitch (including Koulibaly's current teammate Gonzalo Higuain), defense is an actual need with the current core group aging quickly and the next generation still unproven (or coming off of major knee surgery) and very young.  Mats Hummels was an ideal target, but he's already chosen Bayern Munich.  Others like Mehdi Benatia (who's now definitely surplus to requirements at Bayern) or Kostas Manolas (he plays for AS Roma, and thus by default, has to be linked with Chelsea) could also be options, but Koulibaly may yet be the best choice.

Napoli did sign a new center back yesterday, 26-year-old Lorenzo Tonelli, who could be Koulibaly's replacement.  (Or he could be Raul Albiol's replacement, too, of course.)