Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis has claimed Kalidou Koulibaly has cost the club millions of euros in merchandising revenue — and warned that he could take legal action against Chelsea.
Last week, Senegal international Koulibaly said he was likely to leave the Serie A club in the summer and expected rumoured interest from the Blues to become more concrete.
The defender told L’Equipe: “If nothing happens with Napoli, I’m going to start making contact with other clubs.
“I’m going to make the most favourable choice, not only financially but also on a sporting level — clubs of a high standing want me, and I’ve had no sign from Napoli.”
But De Laurentiis responded angrily, with Corriere dello Sport quoting him as saying: “I had thought Koulibaly was a good man.
“The moment I realise you and your agent haven’t read the contracts properly before signing them… I cannot tolerate that.
“Napoli were about to sign new commercial deals to use Koulibaly’s image, but his statements cancelled those opportunities. His jersey cannot be sold now.
“He created damages worth millions of euros, and I have specialists studying the issue now.”
De Laurenttis said that “if we discovered that Chelsea were behind this, we could sue them for damages too. Koulibaly is 24 years old, he is not a kid.”
And he stressed that the player “will continue working for us for the three years on his contract — maybe many more, until he’s paid off the damages to Napoli.”
The president added that he did not believe star striker Gonzalo Higuain, who has been linked with clubs including Liverpool, would leave.
“Gonzalo is a good man and Napoli will become for him what it was for Maradona. Diego entered world football history thanks to Napoli,” he said.
“If Higuain were to listen to the siren song of the European giants, he’d have to take into account that in certain contexts you only play if you do well.
“I have already put the money on the table to improve his contract, which is what he deserves. I have the feeling he will not betray us.”