Kalidou Koulibaly brushes aside Man United speculation after Napoli crash out of Europa League

Aditya Devavrat 12:57 19/04/2019
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Kalidou Koulibaly.

Napoli’s Europa League exit following Thursday’s 1-0 loss to Arsenal brought renewed questions over the future of star centre-back Kalidou Koulibaly, but the player refused to discuss a potential summer move in the aftermath of the game.

Despite trailing 2-0 from the first leg, Napoli must have harboured hopes of pulling off a comeback at home, where they have beaten Liverpool and drawn with Paris Saint-Germain this season.

Arsenal’s poor away from was another reason for the hosts to fancy their chances of overturning the deficit and qualifying for the semi-finals, but instead they fell to a stunning Alexandre Lacazette free-kick and some wasteful play from their own attack to suffer European disappointment yet again.

This was the eighth straight season Napoli had been in European football, a run that began with them making their first-ever Champions League appearance in 2011, yet in that eight-season spell this was only the second time they had even reached the quarter-finals of either of Europe’s competitions, having made the Europa League semi-finals in 2015.

The Partenopei’s inability to get over the hump either in Europe or domestically, where they are set to finish second behind Juventus for a third consecutive season and for the fourth time in five years, has led to predictions that they could lose some of their star players.

In the aftermath of the loss, however, Koulibaly rejected suggestions that he could be done with Napoli or the Serie A, having moved to Italy in 2014 to join the Naples club from Belgian side Genk.

“Why? I grew up in this league. It’s the league that made me the player I am today,” Koulibaly said to reporters after the game.

The 27-year-old has been linked with a move to Manchester United, among others, and Napoli manager Carlo Ancelotti was forced to declare the defender “non-transferable” in the build-up to Thursday’s game – though he also seemingly named a price for United and other suitors to meet, adding that Koulibaly was worth €150million.

For his part, however, the Senegal international brushed aside any questions over his future.

“To me what matters most is to finish the season well, then we’ll see,” Koulibaly insisted.

“I am sorry because we wanted to go through.”

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