As you can probably imagine, Juventus’ plans for replacing Matthijs de Ligt have been kicked into overdrive over the past week as it looks like the young Dutchman is more and more likely to head out this summer.
So, who is it?
There appears to be one very familiar choice.
According to reports out of Italy including from Nicolo Schira, Juventus have targeted Napoli center back Kalidou Koulibaly as the top choice to replace de Ligt, who is still very much garnering attention from Chelsea and Bayern Munich. Juve are reportedly set to offer the 31-year-old Koulibaly a contract worth between €6 million and €7 million a year, according to reports, with the deal running through 2025 or 2026 depending on who you read.
Agresti said later on that Juventus could table an offer around €30 million for Kouibaly.
All of this still very much has two giant questions surrounding it:
- A lot like Fiorentina in recent years, does Napoli want to see another one of its top players bolt for Northern Italy and Juventus again this summer?
- Does Koulibaly, who has been with Napoli since 2014, really want to leave Naples after becoming such a leader at the club over the last decade?
With de Ligt set to leave and Juventus preparing to have a massive influx of money to try and improve the squad and remake its defense, targeting Koulibaly even with him being on the wrong side of 30 just seems like the quickest short-term fix that they can turn to. Negotiations might not be all that quick knowing who Juve are going to be working with to try and get Koulibaly to switch from Naples to Turin, but there won’t be many better options in terms of simple quality than who they have now focused in on.
Is Koulibaly the kind of long-term replacement age-wise that some of us hoped de Ligt would be when he first signed with Juventus in the summer of 2019? No, clearly not. But the simple quality of the player, still arguably the very best at his position in Serie A, can’t be denied. You just hope that the decline that comes with age doesn’t come soon, and that is the risk Juve are willing to take at a pretty high price for a player who has a year left on his current contract with Napoli.
While, in all likelihood, there’s still a long way to go to get this deal done, I sure would have loved to see Aurelio De Laurentiis’ when he heard that Juventus was meeting with Koulibaly’s agent. That had to be gold, Jerry, pure gold.