No matter hard it might have been for Juventus to sign Kalidou Koulibaly, he was reportedly the top choice to replace Matthijs de Ligt if — or, most likely, when — the young Dutchman heads out this summer. Both because of the player’s bond with the club he has been with for nearly the last decade and the fact that club is Napoli, it was always a massive uphill battle if Koulibaly was going to be “the guy.”
He will be said guy. Just not for Juventus.
Reports on Tuesday from Italy (Sky Italia) and England (The Athletic) — and then further confirmed by Fabrizio Romano on Wednesday — say that it’s Chelsea that has won the race to sign Koulibaly and his massively important defending skills. It’s a deal where Napoli will receive upward of €40 million for the 31-year-old defender who was set to become the club’s full-time captain this coming season. Instead, he is about to start a new adventure in the Premier League, and Juventus — no matter how little of a chance there actually was to sign him — is left looking elsewhere after its reported “top choice” decided to sign with Chelsea this summer.
Kalidou Koulibaly to Chelsea, here we go! Full agreement in place for €40m fee add-ons completed, bid accepted. Napoli are checking the documents then it will be official. #CFC— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) July 13, 2022
Koulibaly will sign long-term deal for €10m net salary per season. First centre back, signed. pic.twitter.com/Flr0XSN7wu
Funny. I was told Serie A is a farmer’s league by so many people over the last few years. And yet, here we are, watching another one of Serie A’s best players being plucked by a team that plays in the Premier League and same fans bash Italy at every chance. Funny ... very funny that.
Napoli seemed very resigned to the fact that there was a legit chance that Koulibaly was going to leave Southern Italy this summer. They continuously took a hard stance in the fact that they weren’t going to let him go to Northern Italy and join Juventus. They made it very clear, and the result is that the Chelsea deal was essentially reported as interest, almost done and now medicals about to happen all within about 48 hours.
As Romano says in the tweet above, Koulibaly will make €10 million net a season, the second major addition during the new ownership at Chelsea’s spending spree began with acquiring Raheem Sterling, a deal that just official before this news broke. As Chelsea’s chances of signing Matthijs de Ligt diminished, they have clearly been able to quickly pivot and sign arguably the best central defender on the market. (And it seems like they’re not done yet.)
Now, for Juventus, we see where things go because there’s obviously very much a shrinking market when it comes to available center backs. A decent number of them look to be going to Chelsea, but just how much of the expected de Ligt money they will reinvest in the market might have to be done quick based on what else is happening around them.