Everton’s newly-appointed manager Rafael Benitez wants to sign Napoli centre-back Kalidou Koulibaly in this summer transfer window.
Kalidou Koulibaly, 30, was once regarded as one of the best defenders in Europe. His stellar performances for Napoli over the years has seen him being linked with a host of top European clubs, including Liverpool and Manchester United.
However, Napoli have always been hellbent in the past transfer windows and refused to lower their valuation of the defender, which once rose to over £100m. That valuation has changed this summer, though, with the Senegalese international could be priced away from Naples for as little as £35m.
Rafael Benitez, 61, signed Koulibaly for Napoli from Racing Genk back in 2014 and has played a crucial role in his rise today. The Spanish tactician wants to reunite with the 30-year-old centre-back at Everton after replacing Carlo Ancelotti, who has re-signed with Real Madrid.
Meanwhile, the Toffees, after a bright start to the 2020/21 campaign, finished a disappointing 10th on the Premier League table. Benitez will be expected to challenge for a top-six place next season with the squad inherited from Ancelotti. But there remain a couple of areas he must bolster to help Everton hit the ground running in the new top-flight campaign.
Rafael Benitez must fix Everton’s defensive problems
Everton weren’t great defensively, especially in the second half of last season. They conceded 48 goals in 38 games, which demonstrates why it is vital for Benitez to prioritise reinforcing his backline during this transfer window.
Yerry Mina, who was a part of the Colombia squad that finished third in this year’s edition of Copa America, has been linked with an exit. This would leave the Merseysiders with just three centre-back options in Michael Keane, Ben Godfrey and Mason Holgate.
With Keane and Holgate failing to live up to the expectations and Mina linked with a Goodison Park exit, it’s a no-brainer that Everton need to focus on bringing in reinforcements at the back to challenge for European football. Another option for Rafa Benitez is PSV right-back Denzel Dumfries, who has emerged as a primary target for Everton.
Is Kalidou Koulibaly the answer to Everton’s defensive woes?
To that end, Everton must make a move for Kalidou Koulibaly.
Koulibaly’s stock has dipped over the last couple of seasons but he still remains a top centre-back who can make an immediate impact at Everton. Standing at 6ft 3ins tall, the Senegalese international is a quick, athletic, and robust defender with excellent tackling and interception skills. Due to his burly frame, he will be an asset at both ends of the pitch for the Toffees.
The former FC Metz man would be an excellent partner for Godfrey in the Everton backline, whilst adding some much-needed stability and experience to Benitez’s squad. In addition, Koulibaly’s versatility to slot into defensive midfield position when required should be a boon.
Given Koulibaly’s experience working with Benitez and playing in the Champions League, he could be an exciting defensive presence that could help solve the Toffees’ woes at the back. At 30, the Senegalese, who is contracted to Napoli until 2023, still has a lot to offer at the highest level of the game.
All in all, Benitez’s reunion with Koulibaly in the near future could work wonders for Everton.
I am Rohan Sengupta from one of the busiest cities in India, Mumbai. A Journalism graduate with a keen interest in sports, football is something I simply cannot live without and writing, discussing and analyzing the game is what I do 24*7.