EPL

Napoli could lose Koulibaly without Champions League – Dossena

By Sports Desk May 27, 2020

Napoli could be forced to sell Kalidou Koulibaly if they do not qualify for the Champions League, Andrea Dossena has warned.

The Italian top flight is on hold amid the coronavirus pandemic, leaving Napoli in sixth place and nine points adrift of Atalanta in fourth.

Before the shutdown, coach Gennaro Gattuso had been starting to make his impact felt having succeeded Carlo Ancelotti in December.

Dossena, who played for Napoli between 2010 and 2013, fears the club could lose some of their key players if they are unable to join Europe's elite again next term, having reached the round of 16 before play was halted this season.

And he is sure Koulibaly in particular would flourish, with the defender a reported target of Liverpool and Manchester United.

"To get nine points back from Atalanta is a mammoth challenge so should Napoli not clinch a Champions League berth, they should sell some players," Dossena told Stats Perform News.

"The two most valued are Fabian Ruiz and Koulibaly; the latter is the most likely to leave. Physical and speedy, he is one of the best central defenders in the world and can have his say in the Premier League, too."

Reflecting on Napoli's 2019-20 campaign to date, Dossena conceded the club had underachieved with Ancelotti at the helm but felt Gattuso was having a positive effect.

"It was supposed to be a great season for Napoli, the season with the biggest budget," he said.

"The owner [Aurelio De Laurentiis] had spent a lot and this was supposed to be Ancelotti's glory season. But there has been this setback, some difficulties.

"Then Gattuso came in and was so good at conveying his charisma, grit and will but mostly at giving the squad an elaborated style of passing and some established and clear ideas.

"But most of all he was logical in putting all the players in their natural role, going back to the 4-3-3 formation."

Related items

  • Flick hoping to convince Thiago of Bayern stay amid Liverpool links Flick hoping to convince Thiago of Bayern stay amid Liverpool links

    Bayern Munich head coach Hansi Flick is hoping to convince Thiago Alcantara to remain with the German champions amid growing links to Liverpool.

    Thiago is contracted until the end of 2020-21 but the Spain international is reportedly on the verge of leaving for Premier League champions Liverpool as Bayern brace for his exit.

    The 29-year-old came off the bench with three minutes remaining in Bayern's 4-2 victory over Bayer Leverkusen in Saturday's DFB-Pokal final.

    However, Flick has not given up on keeping star Thiago – who arrived from Barcelona in 2013 and has since won seven successive Bundesliga crowns among other honours.

    "The thing is, I always have hope. I'm actually always very positive about things," Flick told reporters following the Berlin triumph.

    "I also know, of course, that when you're at a certain age and you've already played in the Spanish league with Barcelona and in the Bundesliga with Bayern Munich, you feel the need to experience another big league. That is quite normal and that is also human.

    "I'm trying my best to make sure Thiago stays here and that you can convince him to stay. But that's one thing that time will show.

    "We still have the Champions League ahead of us now and we have a lot of plans, also together with him."

    Flick was also asked about Bayern's transfer plans after prising Germany international Leroy Sane from Manchester City.

    Bayern have been linked to Leverkusen star Kai Havertz, who scored a late consolidation goal on Saturday.

    "We all know that of course the time with coronavirus has changed a lot," Flick added. "This means that many clubs, including FC Bayern Munich, can no longer spend money so easily. That's why we have to proceed cautiously.

    "For now, Leroy Sane's commitment was important for the club and also for the team, which are taking the next step. Hasan Salihamidzic did a very good job of staying on the ball. I think a lot is developing and we have to see that we are a bit more broadly based."

  • Lampard tells Chelsea not to get caught up in Man Utd form and to embrace Champions League pressure Lampard tells Chelsea not to get caught up in Man Utd form and to embrace Champions League pressure

    Chelsea head coach Frank Lampard wants his players to embrace the pressure of trying to qualify for the Champions League in their Premier League battle with in-form Manchester United.

    Lampard's Chelsea moved back into the top four with a 3-0 win over Watford after United had briefly leapfrogged them following a 5-2 thrashing of Bournemouth earlier on Saturday.

    Chelsea are fourth in the table, two points clear of United with five matches remaining in the Premier League, as the top-four race goes down to the wire.

    And Lampard told his players to ignore United, who have gone 16 matches without defeat across all competitions, after bouncing back from Wednesday's shock 3-2 loss at West Ham.

    "I think every game is going to be pressure now," Lampard told reporters. "West Ham was pressure because we knew we could go third. It's a different kind of pressure but it's still the same in how you focus on the game and job at hand.

    "You cannot get too caught up in what everyone does at the moment. We did that tonight. There was no nonsense. The mentality was right. We started brightly and we carried on and got the small details of the game right at both ends of the pitch, which I was happy with."

    "It is not a comparison to get too caught up in," Lampard said. "They are a very good team; we know that. The individuals that they have, the squad, the coaches that they have. We can only respect that.

    "I watched their game early and with the individual quality when you look across their frontline you see two players on 20 goals and Mason Greenwood doing what he is doing scoring regularly.

    "[Bruno] Fernandes and [Paul] Pogba in midfield, the signing of Harry Maguire. They are a really strong outfit. We know that and the fact we are two points ahead we have to be happy about.

    "We know it is going to be contested right until the end of the season with the form that they are in. With respect to Manchester United and the teams around us, we have to focus on ourselves and try to keep picking up results. That will be the main importance to us."

    Olivier Giroud, Willian and Ross Barkley were on target for Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.

    However, midfielder N'Golo Kante suffered a hamstring injury in the win after he was withdrawn with 12 minutes remaining in London.

    Lampard, who insisted Jorginho remains part of his plans despite finding himself out of the line-up, added: "N'Golo has got a small hamstring [injury] which we'll have to scan tomorrow [Sunday] and see how bad it is.

    "We hope it's small, that's what I've been told so far. After the scan we'll know but I'm guessing it'll be a problem for [Crystal] Palace on Tuesday."

    Lampard also heaped praise on goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga, who has been linked with a return to LaLiga, after the former Athletic Bilbao star produced an agile save to thwart Danny Welbeck.

    "I am pleased for him and the back four in front of him as well because I thought we defended pretty well when we needed to," Lampard said. "But the moment when we slipped and they got in; he made a really good save.

    "That's what you want from your goalkeeper, you want them to make those saves and stay alert. It will be good for his confidence along with the clean sheet as well."

  • Lewandowski backed for Ballon d'Or glory by Bayern boss Flick Lewandowski backed for Ballon d'Or glory by Bayern boss Flick

    Bayern Munich head coach Hansi Flick said Robert Lewandowski can win the Ballon d'Or after taking his season tally to 51 goals after the German champions won the DFB-Pokal title.

    Lewandowski scored twice as Bayern eased past Bayer Leverkusen 4-2 on Saturday to retain their DFB-Pokal crown and wrap up a domestic double for the second successive season.

    After David Alaba and Serge Gnabry put Bayern ahead, Lewandowski took centre stage in the second half with goals in the 59th and 89th minutes behind closed doors in Berlin.

    It continued Lewandowski's red-hot form in 2019-20 after the Poland international star exceeded half a century of goals across all competitions this term.

    Lewandowski topped the Bundesliga charts with 34 goals to lead Bayern to an eighth consecutive title, while he has netted 11 in the Champions League as Europe's premier club competition prepares to return next month.

    And Flick backed Lewandowski for Ballon d'Or glory post-match, telling reporters: "Fifty-one goals are already very strong. The first goal Lewy scored, the third goal we scored, was already excellent.

    "The way he takes the ball down there and the way he locks up. Of course, he's had a bit of luck with that as well. But that's what distinguishes him, that he has this confidence in his quality.

    "If I measure for goals now and I see that he has scored 34 goals in the Bundesliga this year, then you can think about how a player from the Bundesliga can become the Ballon d'Or winner. So why not? He has laid all the groundwork with this achievement this year and I would wish him well."

    Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi won the Ballon d'Or in 2019, edging Liverpool's Virgil van Dijk and Cristiano Ronaldo.

    The last Bayern player to receive the individual honour was Karl-Heinz Rummenigge in 1981.

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.