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Kalidou Koulibaly: Profile of Europe’s most wanted defender

There is a scarcity of top defenders in Europe’s top leagues. Finding a centre half able to win points with last ditch tackles, command a team from the back and now ideally be comfortable with the ball at their feet is a tough task. If you find one, they’re going to cost a fortune. £75 million Virgil Van Dijk, £80 million Harry Maguire, £64 million Matthijs De Ligt. With the clubs interested in him, Kalidou Koulibaly won’t be too far off those prices.

Sharks circling for Koulibaly

The Napoli defender has gone from strength to strength over the last 5 years. His development into a powerful, intelligent and dominant centre back has not gone unnoticed. The likes of Manchester United, Tottenham and most recently Arsenal have been linked to him. With their current defensive crisis, don’t be surprised if Manchester City throw their hat into the ring too. Could Carlo Ancelotti convince him to join Everton? It’s a tough ask, but you never know…

“He has a clause of £150m. But, for example, in England, they paid £85 million for a player. In Napoli, I would pay £30-£35 million. With that in mind, I think Koulibaly’s value is £250 million if they paid that much for that guy.

Napoli owner De Laurentiis on Koulibaly (Source: ESPN)

The number of high profile clubs that Koulibaly is attracting is a testament to his quality. As I mentioned above, top defenders are hard to come by in the current market. Napoli could genuinely demand £100 million for him. Yet the recent chaos at the club surrounding the players, former coach Ancelotti and owner Aurelio De Laurentiis may force the Italian side to lower the price for their prized asset.

So how good really is Koulibaly? We’ll give you a profile of one of Europe’s top defenders:

Kalidou Koulibaly – Style of Play

At 6ft 1 inches with his physique, you would expect the 28 year old to be physically strong but slow and sluggish. Not at all. The Senegalese international is a template for the modern day defender. Powerful, intelligent, comfortable with the ball and aggressive. No wonder everyone wants him…

Multiple times in the video, Koulibaly is willing to run out of defence, let alone play out from the back. The man dribbles like he’s a winger about to cut in on his right! Moreover, he’s averaged 89.4% pass accuracy in Serie A this season. That level of comfort on the ball allows fast transition into counter attacks. But it also gives confidence and assurance to the players around him.

Kalidou Koulibaly in action for Napoli

Yet the elegance of the former Genk defender doesn’t take anything away from his defending. He is a monster at the back. In the video above, the sheer aggression he goes into slide tackles with is ridiculous. But it’s calculated and perfect almost every time. Koulibaly has only been sent off 4 times in 6 years. You wouldn’t believe it with the venom in his challenges.

Averaging an impressive 2.6 tackles and 1.1 interceptions per game in 2019/20, the 28 year old reads the game brilliantly too. That goal line clearance in the video, judging when to tackle and positioning himself perfectly for blocks. There are few flaws in the centre back’s game, perhaps discipline to an extent. Though he doesn’t get sent off often, he did get 10 yellow cards last season. But other than that, he’s unbelievable.

Best in the world?

There is no doubt about Kalidou Koulibaly and his prowess as a defender. You could make a strong case for him being the best defender in world football at this moment in time. In the prime of his career, the time to get him is now. Regardless of the price, whichever club gets the Senegal international will be making a serious statement.

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