Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis has opened the door for other clubs to make an approach for Kalidou Koulibaly, with his comments this week.
The Italian has confirmed he will not stand in the way of Koulibaly should he opt to leave Napoli at the end of the season. His current deal at the club expires in 2023, meaning the defender must soon make a decision over his future.
Koulibaly is thought to be one of the top targets for FC Barcelona, with Xavi keen on signing another central defender amid worries over the longevity of Gerard Pique.
Barça had initially targeted Jules Kounde, but the Sevilla prospect’s hefty price tag has priced the Catalans out of a move, potentially forcing the club to set its sights on the Napoli centre-back.
However, in a recent interaction with Gerard Romero, De Laurentiis has dropped a few bombs on Barcelona, denying any rumours linking Koulibaly to Catalonia. He has further claimed that Barça may not have the financial firepower to sign the player.
“Barcelona have not asked for Koulibaly and I think Barça don’t have enough money to sign any player,” De Laurentiis told Gerard Romero (h/t Fabrizio Romano).
It is no secret Barcelona are prioritising moves for free agents this summer as they are not in a position to splash the cash on new players without offloading the existing stars.
In many instances, Barcelona have explored the possibility of swap deals in an attempt to lower the asking fee of their desired targets. But De Laurentiis has ruled out that possibility as well, even though his club hold interest in Barcelona midfielder Miralem Pjanic.
“We’re not interested in any swap deal,” the Napoli president added, thus serving a massive blow to Barcelona’s hopes of signing Kalidou Koulibaly.
Even though the defender’s contract expires in 2023, Barça simply cannot afford his price-tag, in light of the club’s ongoing operation to sign Robert Lewandowski, who is set to cost around €40 million.
It leaves Barcelona with no choice but to rely on player sales and sponsorship deals before they can initiate their operation to sign newer targets, including Koulibaly.