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SPORTS UPDATE

Barcelona Keen on Napoli Star Kalidou Koulibal

Barcelona have reportedly set their sights on Napoli centre-back Kalidou Koulibaly as they hope to overhaul their defensive prospects in the summer. Spanish outlet Sport claims the Catalans see the Senegal international as an immediate upgrade on their current options at the back.

Koulibaly has recently emerged as a top transfer target for Chelsea and Paris Saint-Germain, particularly in light of false accusations linking Napoli with a financial turmoil. Recent reports from Corriere dello Sport stated the Partenopei have tried to convince the 30-year-old to take a 50% wage cut in order to sign a new contract.

Such talks have not gone down well with the Naples administration. In a furious response to the famous Italian publication, Napoli played down the fabricated news, taking a dig at Corriere dello Sport journalist Fabio Mandarini, who published the piece.

“Calcio Napoli does not understand how an attentive publisher such as Amodei can allow Fabio Mandarini to write in Corriere dello Sport that SSC Napoli has offered Koulibaly half of what he earns, or €3m,” a statement read.

“These are falsehoods that can destabilise the environment and create inappropriate negativity in a contract extension negotiation.“

Regardless of the ongoing extension talks between Napoli and Koulibaly, the highly-rated defender could depart the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona this summer. Barcelona look hell-bent on revamping their squad following an abysmal season, where they failed to land a single piece of silverware.

Xavi has identified his backline as the weakest link and wants to plug the leaks by hiring Koulibaly. Napoli would reportedly sanction their stalwart’s departure for around £25m, a significant markdown on the price they required to let him go a couple of years ago.

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