Winners and losers of Koulibaly’s move to Chelsea
The Napoli man-mountain agreed to a €40 million move to Stamford Bridge, ending eight incredible years in Serie A.
But who are the winners and losers in this deal?
The most obvious winner is Chelsea themselves. The Blues have seen their defence gutted this summer after losing Andreas Christensen and Antonio Rudiger on free transfers to Barcelona and Real Madrid, respectively. Cesar Azpilicueta could yet follow to Barcelona.
Chelsea need to sign two top starting central defenders and there are not many viable options. In Koulibaly they have signed arguably the best centre back on the market right now.
He will be an upgrade on Christensen and, the past 18 months aside, has been a far superior defender to Rudiger during his career.
WINNER: Kalidou Koulibaly
Koulibaly is also a winner himself. He has given eight brilliant years service to Napoli but he is now 31 and he deserves the chance to join a super-club who can win major titles.
At Napoli, all he won is a Coppa Italia and Italian Super Cup, in addition to an Africa Cup of Nations with Senegal. A player of Koulibaly’s quality deserves to be winning league titles and Champions Leagues, that is how good he is. He will now have that opportunity.
He will also depart a Napoli legend, something that wouldn’t have been the case had he joined hated rivals Juventus.
WINNERS: Roma, Lazio, Atalanta, Fiorentina
Losing Koulibaly is a bitter blow for Napoli, who already have lost their captain and talisman Lorenzo Insigne on a free transfer this summer.
Dries Mertens’ contract also expired, while Fabian Ruiz’s future is in doubt. Manager Luciano Spalletti has admitted that finishing in the top-four will be very difficult next season.
That is music to the ears of the chasing pack like Jose Mourinho’s Roma, Maurizio Sarri’s Lazio, Atalanta and Fiorentina, who will all fancy their chances of taking Napoli’s Champions League place next season.
LOSER: SERIE A
Losing Kalidou Koulibaly is not only a hammer blow for Napoli but also to Serie A as a whole.
Aside from Virgil van Dijk, there has arguably not been a more consistently brilliant centre-back in all of European league football over the past five years or more.
Serie A is losing one of its giants at a time when it is getting massively outgunned by the spending power of the Premier League. At least the returns of Paul Pogba and Romelu Lukaku this summer have helped soften the blow.
Juventus had earmarked Koulibaly as their primary defensive target this summer but that was always going to be a difficult deal to do due to the rivalry the club has with Napoli.
Their failure to sign Koulibaly means they are now scrambling around looking for a replacement for Matthijs de Ligt, who is certain to leave this summer.
Juventus also lost Giorgio Chiellini ahead of next season and, as it stands, their defence is hopelessly short of the quality required to challenge the best in Italy and Europe.
That brings us on nicely to the final loser; Arsenal.
Having missed out on Koulibaly, Juventus will now turn their attentions to Arsenal centre-back Gabriel Magalhaes.
Again this is a tricky deal to make happen, with Arsenal unkeen to sell and Gabriel reasonably happy. But the Brazilian, it is understood, will at least listen to the offer Juventus make.
Losing Gabriel would be a blow to Arsenal after he formed a good partnership last season with Ben White.