Kalidou Koulibaly would be a huge signing for Everton
Ambition hasn’t been in short supply at Everton in recent years. While the Toffees have struggled to make much of an impression on the top half of the Premier League, only finishing 10th last season and 12th the season before, the Goodison Park outfit have made no secret of their plans to become Merseyside’s second footballing superpower. Big money has been spent on transfers while the appointment of Carlo Ancelotti in December 2019 was a real statement of intent. With Ancelotti now gone, though, the Toffees find themselves at the start of another cycle under Rafael Benitez. A host of potential targets have been linked with Everton but one name stands out; Kalidou Koulibaly.
The Senegalese defender isn’t a strange to the gossip column. In fact, few players have been the subject of as much transfer speculation as Koulibaly over the last few years, with Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Real Madrid all believed to be admirers of the centre back at one point or another.
While fees of around £100m were previously mentioned in relation to Koulibaly, Napoli are now reportedly open to selling the defender for just £35m this summer. This reflects how Koulibaly’s stock has fallen since its peak two years ago but also how he is 30. Anyone who signs the Senegalese international might only get a few seasons out of him.
Nonetheless, the signing of Koulibaly would take Everton to the next level. Benitez might not be a defensive coach but the Spaniard likes his teams to have a sound basis at the back and Koulibaly would be the figure around which the Toffees could build upon. He would be their defensive bedrock.
Of course, Everton have a number of different concerns to address this summer. Most notably, the Toffees need a long-term solution at right back, with Denzel Dumfries believed to be their top target in that position after an impressive Euro 2020 campaign for the Netherlands. His signing would change the dynamic of Everton’s current team down the right side.
Koulibaly, however, would be the most significant Everton signing in a long time. James Rodriguez’ arrival at Goodison Park last summer was seen as a watershed moment but the Colombian had already been chewed up and spat out by an elite level club, much like many of the big signings Everton have made recently. In contrast, Koulibaly would join as a player with the motivation to push his way to the very top.
As a physical presence, Koulibaly is as impressive as any other central defender in the game right now. Everton were something of a soft touch at set pieces last season and that would likely change with the Senegalese centre back defending the box, Koulibaly would be a daunting opponent for Premier League attackers.
But the 30-year-old is also adept with the ball at his feet. No Napoli player made more total passes than Koulibaly did per Serie A appearance last season with the Senegalese international also key to the way his team sprung forward with diagonal passes into wide areas. These are qualities Everton could make to good use.
Benitez knows Koulibaly well having worked with him during his time at Napoli and so he would surely have an idea on how to get the best out of the centre back in his new job on Merseyside. Everton find themselves at a critical juncture of their recent history. They must start producing actual results to match their lofty ambition and the signing of Koulibaly, not so long ago football’s most sought after defender, would help Everton do this.
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