Why Everton must revive interest in Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly

Everton manager Rafael Benitez has prioritised signing a centre-back Kalidou Koulibaly in the January transfer window.

Kalidou Koulibaly of SSC Napoli

The Toffees had a relatively quiet summer transfer window, signing five players out of which four were free transfers. In terms of transfer fees, they spent only £1.7m to sign Demarai Gray from Bayer Leverkusen and the forward is proving to be a snip in the early weeks of the new Premier League season.

Rafael Benitez, after a strong start to the season that currently sees in the top four with three wins and a draw in the first four games, is expected to be backed by the Goodison Park hierarchy moving forward. The Spanish tactician, 61, wants to sign a top centre-back as an upgrade to his current crop of defensive options when the transfer window reopens.

The Everton boss has used different defensive pairings in the opening four Premier League games, with Michael Keane, Ben Godfrey, Yerry Mina and Mason Holgate so far called upon. Benitez is yet to come to a settled centre-back partnership, thereby, prompting him to recruit a top-class operator in that position in the New Year.

Everton must reignite their interest in Kalidou Koulibaly

That being said, the Toffees must revive their interest in Napoli star Kalidou Koulibaly. The Senegalese, 30, was heavily linked with a move to Everton during the summer transfer window, but a move failed to materialise. He has since stayed put at Napoli—a club he joined in 2014 from Belgian club Racing Genk.

Kalidou Koulibaly has been a stalwart at the back for Napoli, racking up close to 290 appearances, scoring 12 goals. He has helped Napoli win all three of their Serie A games so far this season, with the 30-year-old centre-back scoring an 85th-minute winner in the 2-1 victory over Juventus last weekend.

A strong, quick, aggressive and physically intimidating defender, the Senegalese international is known for his aerial ability, technical ability on the ball, positioning, anticipation, reading of the game and tackling skills. Koulibaly, who can also operate in the holding midfielder’s role or in a three-man backline, is technically sound and an excellent passer of the ball. He can build attacks from the back without breaking a sweat, whilst being a calm and composed figure in defence.

A leader and a fantastic organiser of the backline, the ex-Genk man would be a boon to this Everton side, who have been lacking a top operator in their backline for several seasons now. Introducing a player of Koulibaly’s elite calibre is certain to improve the Toffees’ options at the back while increasing the competition within the squad.

Given the Senegalese international’s volumes of experience playing in Serie A and the Champions League plus having worked with Benitez for a season in Naples, the 30-year-old could prove to be an inspiring defensive addition that boosts Everton’s quest to challenge for European football this season.

Thus, the Royal Blues must go revive their interest in Koulibaly and go all out to bring him to Goodison Park in January.

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