Chelsea defender Kalidou Koulibaly criticises Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis after African player vow

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Chelsea defender Kalidou Koulibaly criticises Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis after African player vow
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Chelsea’s new signing Kalidou Koulibaly has criticised Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis, who said he would now only sign African players if they refused to play in the mid-season Africa Cup of Nations.

Koulibaly is regarded as a legend in Naples after a successful eight-year spell in Serie A which ultimately led to his £34million transfer to Stamford Bridge this summer.

And the Senegal captain has now spoken out against De Laurentiis over his shock comments regarding African players.

“It’s up to him if he wants to tell this,” Koulibaly began at his Chelsea unveiling press conference at Cobham on Wednesday. “But for me, it is important to always respect everybody.

“When I played there [Napoli], I also played for Senegal. I won the AFCON when I was playing in Napoli. It was indeed a difficult moment for them when we went to the AFCON, but we won it and I am really happy today. We just want respect for the African national teams also. We need respect for them like the European national teams.

“As the captain of Senegal, I think it is not a good way to speak about the national team but I respect what he thinks. If he thinks that the team can play without African players then it is up to him. I think that not everybody has the same idea of the club as him.

“I know everybody there. I know the supporters and they don’t think like this. I know some people who are part of this association and team who don’t have the same idea as him. It is not the idea of the society or city because the city is very respectful to everyone.

Kalidou Koulibaly made more than 300 appearances during an eight-year stint at Napoli (Getty Images)
Kalidou Koulibaly made more than 300 appearances during an eight-year stint at Napoli (Getty Images)

“I think these words are what he thinks and not what the city or society thinks.”

Koulibaly’s reaction follows podcast comments from De Laurentiis, who told Smart Talk on Wall Street Italia in an explosive interview: “Or they sign a waiver giving up their right to participate to the Africa Cup of Nations tournaments or between AFCON and the championships in South America.

“I never have them (Napoli players) available.”

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