Arsenal have been linked with a move for Napoli’s 26-year-old defender, Kalidou Koulibaly, for some time now, with reports really ratcheting up after Mislintat’s arrival at the club.
He was first identified as a potential Per Mertesacker replacement as far back as May 2016 and Arsenal have been linked consistently since then.
But it’s never looked like a transfer that would happen. Despite the player hinting that he was ready to move, Koulibaly remained in Naples while Arsenal bough Shkodran Mustafi instead.
Last summer, it was reported that Arsenal were considering selling Calum Chambers to fund a move for the player who is valued in excess of €58m. That is the amount reportedly rejected by Napoli when offered by Chelsea who are ready to go back another offer this summer.
According to reports in the Naples edition of Corriere dello Sport, via Sport Witness, Arsenal are still interested in the defender but Chelsea are ‘in the lead’ when it comes to actually signing him.
- Age: 26
- Current club: Napoli
- Contract until: 2021
- Market value: £36m
Arsenal sent scouts to watch Koulibaly as Napoli played RB Leipzig in the Europa League. The defender apparently “continues to like the English club a lot”.
The club also reportedly showed an interest last summer, making an enquiry for his services.
Koulibaly’s strengths are his tackling and his passing, with over a 90% pass completion rate this season. Also, at 1.95m he provides a major physical presence in defence. That’s something which could be very helpful at Arsenal, especially as Per Mertesacker retires.
The biggest roadblock for Arsene Wenger if he wants to sign the Senegal international is the competition from elsewhere. Manchester United and Chelsea have both been following the defender for some time now and, as mentioned, Chelsea are seen as the current favourites to land him.
Sven Mislintat wants Arsenal to sign a centre-back as one of four positions he’s looking to strengthen this summer according to reports, but who are the other available options?
Needing to buy at least one, we assessed six others, in addition to Koulibaly, that Arsenal should consider signing:
We recently covered reports of the four areas Arsenal’s new head of recruitment wants to strengthen over the summer, which you can check out here.