Napoli president Aurelio de Laurentiis has scoffed at the fee Manchester United paid for Harry Maguire and said a player on the books at his club was worth three times what United paid for the England international.
Maguire moved to Old Trafford from Leicester City for £80 million ($97m), a world-record price for a defender.
De Laurentiis believes that is far too high for a player of his calibre and suggested that Kalidou Koulibaly could command £250 million ($303m) if here were to be sold.
“He [Koulibaly] has a clause of £150 million ($182m),” the executive told ESPN.
“But for example, in England they paid £85m for a player. In Napoli, I would pay £30-35m.
“With that in mind, I think Koulibaly’s value is £250 million if they paid that much for that guy.”
Koulibaly was mentioned in some reports as a possible target for United in the early part of the summer, before the 26-year-old Maguire emerged as their main interest.
De Laurentiis blamed the high valuations placed on players on the revenue generated by English clubs, and said that the income of clubs in England made the playing field uneven for other participants in Europe’s top five leagues.
“The problem of the super cost of players is due to England,” he continued. “In England they gross more money than in France, Spain, Italy and Germany.
“If a club grosses £800m, they have no problem to offer around £80m, £90m, £100m for one player. There is not a good and fair competition between England and the other countries.”
Three of the 10 most expensive transfers of all time happened this summer, but only one involved an English club, and they were the sellers in that circumstance.
Eden Hazard’s move from Chelsea to Real Madrid is the tied-tenth highest transfer in football history at €100m (£89m/$113m), and his fee is eclipsed by Joao Felix’s move from Benfica to Atletico Madrid and Antoine Griezmann’s between Atleti and Barcelona.
Maguire’s fee ranks 13th on the all-time list, just behind a transfer involving De Laurentiis’s club.
The 12th highest deal for a player was when Gonzalo Higuain exchanged Naples for Turin, when Juventus paid €90m for the Argentine striker.