Barcelona have been in touch with Napoli’s Kalidou Koulibaly about a possible move to the Camp Nou as he is considered by coach Xavi to be the “ideal central defender” for his new project.
The Catalans “have been monitoring” the Senegal international for some time and consider the 30-year-old to be the “perfect replacement” for Gerard Pique in the heart of the defense, as reported by Diario AS.
Barcelona like Koulibaly’s forcefulness and ability on the ball as well as his pace, anticipation, and aerial ability. The defender’s contract at Napoli expires in 2023 and Barca have asked the defender’s agent, Fali Ramadini, not to make a decision yet on the contract extension offered by the Serie A side.
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Koulibaly’s Price Tag Is a Problem for Barca
Barcelona are hoping to pair Koulibaly with Ronald Araujo next season with Andreas Christensen, who will arrive on a free transfer from Chelsea, and Eric Garcia also in the squad as alternatives.
However, it will not be easy to land the stopper. Napoli have put a price tag of €40 million on the center-back and are not interested in negotiating or seeing any players included in the deal.
The initial contacts between the clubs “have not been very positive,” although Barca have had more luck in discussions with the player with talks described as “very advanced.” Koulibaly has been offered a contract that runs until 2026.
Signing Koulibaly does look a long shot for Barca, particularly given the club’s ongoing financial problems. The club will also not want to splash out a large fee on a player who will be a free agent next summer.
Is Pique’s Season Already Over?
Meanwhile, Pique’s season could be over with the center-back once again struggling with an adductor injury. The Catalan was back in the starting XI for the win over Real Mallorca last time out but asked to come off after just 27 minutes.
Xavi offered an update on the 35-year-old defender after the 2-1 win that sent the Catalans back into second place in La Liga, as reported by Goal.
“Pique is in pain. He’s trying to come back,” he said. “Pique was feeling good before the match. He started very well, but then he felt discomfort and asked for a substitution. I thank Gerard for his leadership. The team needs him, when he plays we feel more secure.”
Barcelona only have four games of the 2021-22 season left and it remains to be seen if Pique will play again. Tests have shown his injury has worsened and it’s doubtful whether he will be able to feature in Barca’s run-in at all, as reported by Diario AS.
The defender turned 35 in February and it’s not clear yet how much longer he has left at the highest level. Pique said in March that he hopes he can “go on a bit more” and does have a contract at the club that runs until 2027.
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