Chelsea are ready to step up their pursuit of Napoli centre back Kalidou Koulibaly, 25, by lodging a €40m bid with the Italian club.
The Senegalese international has emerged as the top defensive target of new Blues boss, Antonio Conte. A €23m bid was rejected last month and earlier this month, an improved €36m offer received the same response.
Last season’s Serie A runners-up have declared their determination to hold onto the highly-rated centre back and if forced to sell, will only do so for a large fee. Inspired by the money being spent by Premier League clubs this summer, they know already wealthy Chelsea have the funds to go significantly higher with their offer.
Koulibaly was impressive in the Neapolitans title bid and was a lynchpin in a defence which conceded just 32 goals in 38 games, a record bettered only by champions Juventus. Having pushed the Turin giants close last season, Napoli are determined to go one better next season and win their first title in more than a quarter of a century.
Hanging on to their best players is vital to that continued success. Speculation is rife that Gonzalo Higuain, 27, has rejected a new contract with Arsenal hovering, and Koulibaly is seen as equally important by manager, Maurizio Sarri.
With no urgent need to sell, Chelsea may have to adopt a patient approach to seal the deal.
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