According to reports, Arsenal have identified Napoli centre-back Kalidou Koulibaly as the player they want to build their new-look defence around.
Koulibaly made the switch to Napoli in 2014 when he joined the club from Belgian side Genk. The 26-year-old has been an ever-present in their line-up since then and has enjoyed a fantastic season at Naples, playing a crucial role in the Italian club’s title challenge, which eventually failed.
The Senegalese’s impressive form in the Serie A has garnered a lot of attention and one of the clubs interested in signing him are Arsenal. The player has a £53m price tag.
This season, the Gunners have conceded 51 league goals, the most by the club in Arsene Wenger’s 22-year tenure. Their defensive record has been a real mess in major matches, with Arsenal just winning once away from home in 2018.
Whoever replaces Wenger ahead will definitely need defensive reinforcements, given Per Mertesacker’s retirement and the long-term injury suffered by skipper Laurent Koscielny.
Youngsters Rob Holding and Calum Chambers have failed to inspire confidence, while Shkodran Mustafi has endured an inconsistent campaign at the Emirates. January recruit Konstantinos Mavropanos made his Premier League debut against Manchester United earlier this month and impressed but was sent off against Leicester City.
The inconsistent Arsenal defence certainly needs some reshaping before the start of the new season and who better than Napoli’s Koulibaly to solve it?
Koulibaly is physically imposing, strong, fast and his aerial prowess makes him a threat in front of the goal as well. The Senegalese is comfortable with the ball on his feet, reads the game very well, and is a tough nut to crack.
Seeing Kouilbaly’s tall figure, anyone would think that his style of play involves only sheer strength and no-nonsense defending. In fact, it is a lot more than no-nonsense defending.
Due to his ability to read games and soak up the pressure, Koulibaly exudes a lot of calmness in the Napoli’s backline. The defender can comfortably play in any position in a back three or four, whilst also covering defensive midfield. Such versatility has seen the former Genk man become a mainstay in Maurizio Sarri’s Napoli side.
Although Koulibaly initially struggled to adapt to life in the Serie A following his switch from Genk in 2014, he has significantly developed his overall game in the last couple of seasons. His meteoric rise at Napoli under Sarri has seen him gain a lot of attention from Europe’s top elites.
Koulibaly is clearly a top defender and if he can maintain the form that he has displayed in the last couple of seasons, then he will soon be considered as a world-class defender.
The quick, tall and powerful defender has been valued highly by the Napoli hierarchy and they will be desperate to keep hold of him.
Arsenal really need to strengthen their defence if they are to challenge for trophies next season. Koulibaly fits the bill perfectly and therefore, the Gunners need to act quickly. The Senegalese would command a lot of money and Arsenal must be ready to pay it to lure him away from Italy.