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De Laurentiis: Napoli will have to sell Kalidou Koulibaly one day

Kalidou Koulibaly, Napoli, Aurelio De Laurentiis
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President Aurelio De Laurentiis has conceded Napoli will have to sell star defender Kalidou Koulibaly sometime in the future.

Since De Laurentiis signed him from Genk for Napoli in 2014, Koulibaly has earned himself a reputation as one of the world’s best defenders. Unsurprisingly, this has led to a lot of interest from a number of top European clubs.

Manchester United, for example, were heavily tipped to make a move for him in the summer. However, they ultimately signed Leicester City star Harry Maguire for a world-record transfer of €87m.

But rumours over Koulibaly’s future haven’t disappeared, with United and Premier League rivals Arsenal allegedly keen.

“I loved Koulibaly the man so I refused €105million,” De Laurentiis told Sky Sport Italia.

“But a time will come when I’ll have to sell him. Whoever says we didn’t improve our defence is wrong.”

The Napoli president also indicated he may be open to offers for Fabian Ruiz, who is reportedly on Barcelona and Real Madrid’s radar.

The 23-year-old midfielder, who arrived from Real Betis for €30m last year, has thrived in the Serie A. His strong performances, in fact, have won him a spot in the Spanish national team.

“Fabian’s always been a top player,” said De Laurentiis.

“If I convince myself to pay a stranger €30m, I do it for a reason and now I know why.

“It’s one thing to play for your country and another to do it for a team who play every three days. We found Fabian, but we’ll find more like him. The door’s always open. I don’t get attached to players.”

With the prospect of lucrative moves to China on the horizon, Dries Mertens and Jose Callejon may also be on their way out of Napoli soon.

De Laurentiis added: “I’m absolutely not prepared to make a major effort for them.

“Each player has a value, depending on where they play, how they play, how old they are and what they do.

“If they want to sell themselves out in China, overpaid to live a life of s*** for two or three years, it’s their problem. I can’t consider China to be competitive. China’s far away. If they consider it to be close, it’s their problem.

“In life, you have to choose whether to be happy and find a job you enjoy doing or work just for money. For me, money is a means and not an end; if it’s an end for them then they should go to China.”

Dries Mertens and Jose Callejon
NAPLES, ITALY – APRIL 08: Jose Callejon and Dries Mertens of SSC Napoli celebrate the victory after the serie A match between SSC Napoli and AC Chievo Verona at Stadio San Paolo on April 8, 2018 in Naples, Italy. (Photo by Francesco Pecoraro/Getty Images)