Napoli owner Aurelio De Laurentiis has revealed the desire of the club to keep defender Kalidou Koulibaly when his contract comes to an end but stressed that “we will not force people to stay.”
The 30-year-old Senegalese centre back, who has been among the key players for the Partenopei in the current campaign, is set to run down his contract with the Serie A giants at the end of the season.
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While Napoli are yet to engage him for a possible contract extension, Koulibaly, who helped the Lions of Teranga to win their first-ever Africa Cup of Nations title in January, has been heavily linked with a move to Barcelona.
Speaking about Koulibaly’s future, De Laurentiis said as quoted by Football Italia: “He is a symbol of Napoli, and if he wants to stop being a symbol, he’s the one who needs to decide that. We want Koulibaly to stay, but it’s not like you can force people to.
“Everyone has their own dignity and their own needs. We respect everyone, do you know that I haven’t ever forced anyone to stay, even with a few years left on their contract?
“The only person I forced, and whom I greet because he’s a dear friend, is Walter Mazzarri, after two years he told me he wanted to leave, I told him he would stay. He did and gave us four years of satisfaction.”
Another player, whose future at Napoli is uncertain, is Nigeria forward Victor Osimhen, who has heavily been linked with a host of clubs mostly in the Premier League.
Asked about the future of the 23-year-old Super Eagle, De Laurentiis said: “We had him at half service for two years, making judgments is always ill-timed.
“Every league is different, every team changes in the course of preparation: it’s always an unknown. What you have to put on the field is the psychological side. I’ve always been of the opinion that you need a male or female psychologist, because a woman is always more pleasant.
“But then you must not get the coaches into trouble, because they might say inappropriate things, creating a barrier of convictions in the player himself that clash with the idea of the coach. We have always abstained, out of respect for the coach.”
Napoli will conclude their season with a visit to face Spezia on Sunday.