Antonio Conte’s hopes of bolstering his defence before the deadline took a huge blow as according to reports in The Goal, Serie A outfits Napoli are still not allowing the Blues to open talks with long-term Kalidou Koulibaly despite nearing a move for Torino defender Nikola Maksimovic.
After signing striker Michy Batshuayi and midfielder N’Golo Kante this summer, Chelsea are desperate to add new players to its back-line and Koulibaly emerged as their top target after a strong showing for Napoli last season. The Blues had been tracking the talented 25-year-old and their interest in the player was made public after the defender’s agent Bruno Satin admitted Chelsea wanted to sign him this summer.
With the deal all set to fail, the website reported that the English giants are now pursuing Fiorentina’s Marcos Alonso and Lazio’s Stefan de Vrij.
Koulibaly’s agent had reportedly told the website that the defender wanted to join Chelsea after being unhappy with the new contract terms he was offered by Napoli, causing a falling out with club president Aurelio de Laurentiis.
Meanwhile, Maksimovic is expected to join Napoli shortly and can partner Koulibaly at the heart of defence. The defender has fallen out of favour with Torino boss Sinisa Mihajlovic, who has said that Maksimovic is “dead” to him after he went AWOL by missing training.
Koulibaly’s is not the first defender who Chelsea failed to sign. They also failed in a bid to sign AC Milan’s Alessio Romagnoli after a reported bid in the region of €35 million plus bonuses.
The delay in the signing for a new defender has also resulted in delays to outgoing loan moves for young defenders Kenedy and Matt Miazga, who both have offers from Premier League clubs including Watford.
Chelsea’s back four was one of the big liabilities last term and Conte will be well aware of the fact that he needs new defender if he wants to challenge for the titles. Chelsea conceded 53 goals in the Premier League last season, 17 more than champions Leicester.