Chelsea's £35m defensive transfer target Kalidou Koulibaly was on brink of move to NORWICH – for just £7m | The Sun

KALIDOU KOULIBALY looks to be finally moving to the Premier League – a transfer which has been seven years in the making.

Chelsea are closing in on a £35million transfer for the Napoli central defender as they look to plug the holes left by Antonio Rudiger and Andreas Christensen.

Although an English record for an over 30s player, the deal will still be good business for new owner Todd Boely, who is also looking to tie up a deal for Manchester City centre-back Nathan Ake.

It seems as though every Premier League club has shown an interest in Koulibaly at some stage over the years.

But the nearest he got to a switch to England was in the summer 2015, just 12 months after he moved to Napoli from Belgian side Genk for £7m.

Incredibly, Napoli agreed his £6.9m transfer to Norwich.

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Koulibaly, who had struggled in his first Serie A campaign, was also happy to complete the move to Norfolk. 

The only reason he stayed in southern Italy was that Napoli failed to get either of their two targets to replace him.

Now, Koulibaly, 31, who has one year left on his contract, has made 317 appearances for Napoli, who are ready to sell but they turned down Chelsea’s first offer of £27m.

At Stamford Bridge, Koulibaly will earn about £8m a year – £150,000 a week.

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He will clearly relish the prospect of finally starring in the Premier League and playing in front of Senegal international team-mate Edu Mendy.

He has suffered a couple of ropey seasons in Italy, not just in that first campaign but also a couple of years ago.

Nevertheless, he is still considered as among the top four defenders in Serie A.

In January 2021, Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp desperately wanted to sign him.

Yet club sporting director Michael Edwards refused to sanction such a massive transfer with the Reds still counting the financial cost of Covid.

Instead, Liverpool signed Ben Davies from Preston for £2m. This situation frustrated Klopp and his relationship with Edwards became fractured.

In defence for Napoli last season, Koulibaly was a rock. They missed the player badly when he headed to the Afcon with Senegal.

During his time away, Napoli’s Serie A title bid wobbled as they won four, lost three and drew one of their matches.

Ultimately, their hopes of winning the League ended and they finished third behind AC Milan and Inter Milan. 

Understandably, Napoli boss Luciano Spalletti does not want to lose such an experienced player.

With club captain Lorenzo Insigne moving to Toronto in MLS, Koulibaly was due to be handed the armband but his time at the newly-named Diego Maradona Stadium is now coming to an end.

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In eight years, Koulibaly only has a 2020 Coppa Italia winners’ medal to show for his efforts.

He will certainly look for a better haul under Thomas Tuchel at Chelsea.

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