Koulibaly offers transfer advice to Osimhen after Chelsea exit

Ex-Napoli and Chelsea defender Kalidou Koulibaly believes Victor Osimhen should listen to nobody regarding his future and believes Napoli wouldn’t have won the Serie A title if he had stayed.

The Senegal international left the Stadio Maradona last summer, completing a €30m transfer to Chelsea. However, he has already left Stamford Bridge, joining Saudi club Al-Hilal.

“I had no guarantees to get regular playing time [at Chelsea], I was always professional but I don’t like to sit on the bench doing nothing,” the defender said in an interview with Corriere dello Sport published in Tuesday’s paper edition (page 4).

“I prefer a place where I am wanted and at the centre of the project and can be an example for young players.

“The Premier League is fantastic and there are great players. They expected the Koulibaly of Napoli, but I think my season was not so bad. I needed time and in one year I couldn’t prove what I wanted because of the coach’s and club’s choices.

“I am happy with what I learned about my limits, my family and my kids,” he continued.

“My time had come and I had to make a decision. My teammates sent me so many messages, they are all sorry, but I have to prepare for the AFCON. It’s the most important thing for me, Senegal want to win again, but it won’t be easy.”

Koulibaly may have signed with Al-Hilal but has now returned to Naples for his summer holiday.

“I am really happy for the Scudetto,” he said.

“I fought to win it for years and everyone’s saying that I’d won it too if I had stayed, but I believe in destiny. It was written, I had to leave to see Napoli win the Serie A title.

“Napoli deserve a great future in Italy and in the Champions League. These players have made history and if they win the title again, it will be a total feat. Everyone has his own history and life but they’ve made history in Naples and they can’t leave just like this. I hope they stay, I hope not everyone leaves.”

Koulibaly was replaced by Kim last summer, but the South Korea international is expected to leave in the first two weeks of July when clubs outside Serie A can activate a clause worth more than €50m. Kim also replaced Koulibaly off the pitch, renting the same home in Posillippo during his time in Naples. That same house previously belonged to Raul Albiol.

“Those walls have seen some great defenders,” joked Koulibaly.

“Football goes quickly these days and offers a lot of chances. It’s not like in the past. I remained for eight years in Naples. Kim has made history in one year and it’s a pity if he leaves, but this is football. You never know what can happen.”

How about Osimhen? Should he stay or leave?

“We speak once in a while and if he needs, he’ll call me,” argued Koulibaly.

“Victor is an important player, among the best in the world. Gennaro Gattuso helped him, Luciano Spalletti was a turning point for him and now he needs nobody. He must feel free to choose without listening to anyone else. That’s the only way not to have regrets.

“Napoli are favourites because they won the Serie A title with a big margin, but everyone will be waiting for them and everyone will make new signings. Serie A is improving and the three European finalists showed it. It takes time when you change coach, but Rudi Garcia knows the Italian league well. It’s a great challenge for him and he can do great things even if it all depends on the market.”

Koulibaly did not play with Khvicha Kvaratskhelia in Naples although the Georgia international dreamed of sharing the dressing room with the Senegal captain.

“It’s a pity it didn’t happen, it would have been great. He has great talent, he scores and dribbles. His football gives joy. I wish him a great career. I hope he can make Napoli fans dream around the world.”

A new chapter of Koulibaly’s life is about to begin. What does he expect from the Saudi league and why did he move there?

“I am happy with my decisions for many reasons,” he explained.

“I am Muslin and I land in the right country. I am happy to play in a league that is evolving and I hope I can help Saudi Arabia and Al-Hilal write history in sports and this contract is really important.

“I can help my family live well, my parents and cousins, and sustain the social activities of my NGO in Senegal: Capitane du Coeur. We started with constructing a pediatric clinic in the village where my parents were born and married. It’s called Ngano.”

When asked if he will reunite with his ex-Napoli coach Gattuso at Al-Hilal, he replied: “I don’t know, these things belong to the club.”

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