Chelsea’s summer long pursuit of Napoli’s Kalidou Koulibaly, 25, could be about to bear fruit.
New Blues manager Antonio Conte identified the Napoli centre back as a key signing this summer. With news that Kurt Zouma, 25, is expected to miss the first half of the season, the Italian has stepped up his pursuit of the Senegalese international.
Conte is determined to field his favoured three-man central defence this season having seen Chelsea labour to an opening weekend victory over West Ham United. The intensity the former Italy coach desires is built around a solid backline; Koulibaly is seen as pivotal to that.
The Serie A club have so far resisted Chelsea’s previous offers but the Blues hierarchy has sanctioned a club-record bid of £60m to land Koulibaly. That would be too good an offer for Napoli owner Aurelio De Laurentiis to refuse.
If he does, Conte is prepared to go head-to-head with West Ham over Torino’s Nikola Maksimovic, 24. The Serbian international is determined to force a move away from Turin and has angered boss Sinisa Mihajlovic by missing training sessions in recent weeks.
The former Lazio midfielder gave Maksimovic his first international cap when in charge of the Serbia squad but has lost patience with the antics of his younger compatriot.
Slaven Bilic is hoping that the offer of a first team spot will persuade Maksimovic to move to the Olympic Stadium.
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