Radio Kiss Kiss, a Napoli station, has generally been pretty accurate when it comes Società Sportiva Calcio Napoli. They’re tightly bound to the city’s football club; it was on Kiss Kiss that Aurelio de Laurentiis announced he’d turned down Chelsea’s offer for Koulibaly the first time we tried to buy him, in 2016. It was on Kiss Kiss that the agent for Lorenzo Insigne’ discussed transfer rumors about his client last year.
Kiss Kiss has been a generally accurate reporter of the Maurizio Sarri drama so far this spring. Napoli president Aurelio de Laurentiis even chose them as his platform again, this time when he decided to announce he was closing the book on Sarri’s career with the Partenopei.
So when Kiss Kiss reports on Napoli, ears perk up. Unfortunately, this time they’re dangling the same carrot that Chelsea have looked at longingly for going on three years now.
Chelsea have had the Koulibaly door slammed in their face twice now by Aurelio de Laurentiis, once in 2016 and again last summer. Do we really have the appetite to go another round? And how accurate can this report be, if the central defender has a reported €70m release clause in the contract he signed just last summer?
One thing we do know: negotiating with Napoli won’t be easy. Whatever our feelings about his style, De Laurentiis is a canny and hard-driving businessman. He rescued the team from bankruptcy in 2004, making him a contemporary of Roman Abramovich in terms of ownership. While Roman started at the top and began winning things, ADL started in Italy’s third division with a bankrupt club and had to claw his way back to the top of Italian football. Under his guidance the Light Blues have become a regular presence Champions League and title contenders in Serie A. ADL didn’t achieve that by giving away the store.
So when he talks about Koulibaly being worth €100m or €120m it may not be a statement of fact. But it most certainly is a statement of intent. He’s going to drive the hardest bargain he can. That’s how he lifted Napoli to its current status. It’s how he’s planning to keep them there. It’s why he’s going to extract every penny he can out of Sarri’s contract even though he’s already signed his replacement. And it’s why, if Chelsea really do intend to poach some of his players to make their new coach happy, it’s going to be a bruising summer.