Kalidou Koulibaly hits back at Napoli boss' shock 'Africans' comments


New Chelsea star Kalidou Koulibaly has hit back at the president of his former club Napoli for vowing to never sign an African player again if they do not agree to stay away from the Africa Cup of Nations.

Gli Azzurri chief Aurelio De Laurentiis' controversial remarks have triggered a response from the recently departed former player of the club who ironically captained Senegal to their first-ever Afcon title in February this year while still on the books of the Naples outfit.

The scheduling of the latest showpiece, which was moved to January and February this year due to the effects of the coronavirus pandemic on the continent, left some club executives in Europe's top leagues frustrated as it led to some players missing club fixtures for up to a month.

However, the view that Africans should not prioritise the tournament has been criticised by many, including Crystal Palace boss Patrick Vieira, who was among those who were appalled by the apparent disregard for the competition displayed by some in Europe.

The Blues' new centre-back Koulibaly, a former Napoli captain himself who made the switch to the London club just last month, has now issued a response to his ex-employer.

"It's up to [De Laurentiis]," Koulibaly said, according to The Athletic.

"For me, the most important thing is to respect everybody. I always respect everybody. When I played there I was playing also for Senegal, and I won the Afcon.

"It's true that it was a difficult moment for them when we went to the Afcon, but I’m really happy today (to have won).

"We have to respect the national team also. You cannot speak about an African national team like this, I think. You have to have respect like you have for the other national teams.

"As captain of Senegal, I think it's not a good way to speak about the national team, but I respect what he thinks. If he thinks the team can play without African players, it's up to him.

Read: Aubameyang to make EPL return?

"But I think not everyone in the club has the same idea as him. I know everybody over there, I know the supporters and the supporters don't think like this.

"It's up to him, but it's not an idea of the society of the city, because the city is really respectful. This is what he thinks, not what the city is thinking or the society is thinking."

Here are Chelsea's ins and outs so far in this window, including Koulibaly

Show Comments ()