‘It’s on the right track… I’ll confirm that later’: Napoli star Kalidou Koulibaly reveals he is close to a £34m move to Chelsea, as they near agreement on fee and personal terms to take new owner Todd Boehly’s potential spend past the £120m mark
- Chelsea have ramped up their pursuit of Napoli centre back Kalidou Koulibaly
- The Blues are in urgent need of defensive reinforcements in the summer window
- An agreement is looking more likely with a long-term deal and £34m on the table
- The transfer would take new owner Todd Boehly’s potential spend past £120m
- Antonio Rudiger and Andreas Christensen have already left on free transfers
Chelsea have opened talks over a move for Kalidou Koulibaly.
New owner Todd Boehly is understood to have spoken with the Napoli defender’s agent on Monday over what is likely to be a deal worth around £35m.
Reports in France revealed what Koulibaly said of his potential switch to Chelsea: ‘I’ll confirm that later, but it’s on the right track.’
The 31-year-old would provide a welcome boost as the club seek to strengthen their backline, with a swoop for Manchester City’s Nathan Ake not yet over the line.
Ake is close to arriving after agreeing personal terms ahead of a return to his former club. City want around £40m for the Dutchman.
This summer has already seen the departures of Antonio Rudiger and Andreas Christensen to Real Madrid and Barcelona respectively on free transfers, meaning the club want to bring in at least two central defenders.
Chelsea’s pursuit of Napoli’s Kalidou Koulibaly has ramped up with a £34m deal edging closer
Captain Cesar Azpilicueta, set to join Barcelona in a £7m move, has been told that he cannot leave Stamford Bridge until defensive reinforcements have been signed.
On Tuesday, Raheem Sterling jetted out to join his new team-mates in Los Angeles ahead of official confirmation of his move from City in a deal worth £47.5m, rising to £50m. He has undergone a medical as his move inches closer.
The Blues made it clear they wanted Sterling to take on a key role of their attacking overhaul and, following positive talks with Tuchel, Sterling opted for Stamford Bridge.
Sterling is understood to have negotiated a five-year contract worth significantly more than his existing £300,000 a week. There is the option for an extension of one season on a deal that takes him into the Premier League’s top three earners.
Thomas Tuchel’s side are also eyeing Bayern Munich winger Serge Gnabry and in defence, PSG’s Presnel Kimpembe, Sevilla’s Jules Kounde, RB Leipzig’s Josko Gvardiol and Juventus’ Matthijs de Ligt. De Ligt prefers a move to Bayern Munich.
Koulibaly has long been linked with a move to the Premier League after impressing in Serie A and on the European stage and Thomas Tuchel’s side look to be in pole position to land his signature this summer.
The 31-year-old has just one year left on his deal in Naples, meaning the Italian giants could be keen to cash in on him now to avoid running the risk of losing him for nothing next summer.
A move to west London would see him reunited with Senegal international team-mate Edouard Mendy.
The goalkeeper spoke of the need to build a connection with incoming arrivals, as they attempt to close the gap on Manchester City and Liverpool.
He said: ‘You need to be ready to adapt all the time. You need to be ready to change the connection with the players, the position, the formation. So it’s a new thing we have to deal with but we are more than happy with the defenders who will arrive.’
Mendy also believes the gap last season – 19 points to champions City and 18 to second-placed Liverpool – is not as big as some may think.
‘If you think about the last year, I think until December we were close then we had a lot of things against us like injuries,’ he said from Chelsea’s pre-season camp in California.
Thomas Tuchel (L) has money to spend this summer following the takeover of Todd Boehly (R)
‘We had Covid cases and it was like we lost a bit our level of performance, and, yes I think that’s what the difference.
‘But if you watch the game against Liverpool and Man City last year, I don’t think you can see a big gap between us and them. So we just need to start well and keep our level of performance and see what happens.’
Chelsea have got money to spend following the £4.25billion takeover by American billionaire Todd Boehly but they are yet to make their first signing of the summer transfer window.
It’s thought Boehly may be flying out to Los Angeles – where Tuchel and his players are currently in training camp – with Sterling on Tuesday.
Chelsea are due to play Mexican giants Club America in Las Vegas, Charlotte FC in North Carolina and London rivals Arsenal in Orlando across the Atlantic.
Boehly’s Blues have also been linked to Manchester United star Cristiano Ronaldo after he stunned the Red Devils by expressing his desire to leave.