Kalidou Koulibaly has condemned plans by Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis to tell new signings they must agree not to play in the Africa Cup of Nations.

De Laurentiis proposed the controversial policy on Tuesday, saying that any African player who joined the Serie A club should make a commitment to skip the tournament.

It remains to be seen whether he goes through with the plan, or whether it is enforceable. The next AFCON is due to be played in the Ivory Coast in January 2024.

Last season, Napoli were without Cameroon international Andre-Franck Zambo Anguissa and Senegal defender Koulibaly as they represented their nations in the tournament that took place in January and February, while Nigeria striker Victor Osimhen missed out because of an injury.

Koulibaly, who has since moved on to Chelsea, felt De Laurentiis was out of line with his remarks, and claimed the views would not be endorsed by many others at the club.

"It's up to him if he wanted to tell this, but for me the most important [thing] is to respect everybody," Koulibaly told a news conference in London.

"When I played there, I was playing also for Senegal, and I won the AFCON with Senegal when I was playing with Napoli.

"It's true that it was a difficult moment for them when we went to AFCON, but we won it and I'm really happy today."

While Napoli may have struggled for numbers without their African players, their results were strong nonetheless, with Luciano Spalletti's team taking 13 points from a possible 15 from their first five league games of the year. The only real disappointment was a Coppa Italia exit at the hands of Fiorentina in mid-January.

Koulibaly added: "You cannot speak for African national teams like this, I think. You have to have respect, like you have for other national teams.

"As captain of Senegal, I think that this is not a good way to speak about African national teams.

"But I respect what he thinks. If he thinks the team can play without African players, it's up to him. But I think not everybody has the same idea as him at the club.

"I know that some people who are part of this society and team do not have the same idea as him. It's not the idea of the society or the city, because the city is very respectful."

Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis has controversially suggested the club will not sign African players unless they make agreements not to play in the Africa Cup of Nations.

Last season, Napoli were without Cameroon international Andre-Franck Zambo Anguissa and Senegal defender Kalidou Koulibaly during their participation in Africa’s showpiece tournament, the latter of whom went on to win the tournament and has since departed Naples for Chelsea.

Striker Victor Osimhen could have been another player to travel to the tournament in Cameroon to play for Nigeria, but an injury ruled him out.

The next AFCON is due to be played in the Ivory Coast in 2024, and De Laurentiis says the club would want some sort of commitment from any player joining Napoli that they would be willing to skip the tournament.

"I told them: lads, don't talk to me about Africans anymore," De Laurentiis told a streamed event in quotes reported by Football Italia.

"I love them, but either they sign something confirming they'll back out of playing the Africa Cup of Nations, or otherwise between that tournament, the World Cup qualifiers in South America, these players are never available!

"We are the idiots who pay salaries only to send them all over the world playing for others."

De Laurentiis also revealed how he rebuked the advances of American investors in an offer worth $900million back in the 2017-18 season.

"In recent years these investment funds have become fashionable, they have to guarantee their investors a certain revenue within five years," the 73-year-old added.

"They saw that football is a great opportunity and they can double their investment by selling clubs to investment funds in future. That's what Milan and Inter have done, right?

"I am assailed by funds, I can't take it anymore. In 2017-18, an American fund offered me $900m to sell Napoli. But they don't realise I am this pure entrepreneur who enjoys playing the game, so let me keep playing."

Napoli announced two signings on Thursday, confirming midfielder Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa from Fulham on a permanent deal and the arrival of Mathias Olivera from Getafe.

The Cameroon international spent this season on loan at the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona, and Napoli have taken up the option to make the move permanent for an undisclosed fee.

Zambo Anguissa joined Fulham from Marseille in 2018, making 66 appearances in all for the Cottagers.

He made 25 appearances for Luciano Spalletti's side in Serie A this season, recording two assists.

The Italian club also confirmed the signing of Olivera from Getafe, with the Uruguayan left-back having made 119 appearances during five seasons in Spain.

Where will Lionel Messi land?

Barcelona's shock announcement of his departure set rumours flying.

Will it be Paris, Manchester or somewhere else?

 

TOP STORY - MESSI ON THE MARKET

Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester City are rumoured to be the top suitors for Lionel Messi.

The French giants have already made contact with Messi's representatives, according to Fabrizio Romano, and are seen in many quarters as the favourites to land the Argentine forward.

It remains to be seen wherher PSG can take on Messi after making several major moves during the transfer window, while City may be in a similarly difficult situation after finalising their £100million deal for Jack Grealish on Thursday.

A reunion with Pep Guardiola may still be a possibility, though, especially if Tottenham refuse to engage in talks around a Harry Kane deal.

Major League Soccer could also be a possibility, though Messi is expected to remain in Europe for at least a few more years.

 

ROUND-UP

- Manchester United have not given up on a move for Kieran Trippier, though they have not come close to Atletico Madrid's £34million demands for the England international, The Sun says.

- West Ham are in talks with Fiorentina for centre-back Nikola Milenkovic, Fabrizio Romano reports, with the Serie A side eyeing Matija Nastasic of Schalke as a replacement.

- Arsenal have bid £17m for Lazio striker Joaquin Correa, claims Corriere dello Sport.

- Juventus are interested in bringing back Barcelona's Miralem Pjanic on either a loan or a permanent deal, says Calciomercato.

- Roma are lining up a £21m bid for Fulham midfielder Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa, says Gazzetta dello Sport.

- Crystal Palace are among multiple clubs hoping to lure Adam Armstrong from Blackburn, with the Daily Mail saying they are favoured ahead of Norwich City and Southampton.

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