Man City target £90m-rated top Serie A star – The right man to ease their defensive woes?

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Why Kalidou Koulibaly can add confidence to a struggling Manchester City defence

According to Le10Sport (h/t The Sun), Manchester City are targeting Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly.

The 28-year-old centre-back has evolved himself into one of the top defenders in the world with his standout displays for Napoli in the last few years. Having made a switch to San Paolo from Belgian side Genk in 2014, Koulibaly has gone on to make 233 appearances for the Neapolitans.

Kalidou Koulibaly of SSC Napoli during the Serie A match between SSC Napoli and Bologna FC at Stadio San Paolo on December 01, 2019 in Naples, Italy. (Getty Images)
Kalidou Koulibaly of Napoli during the Serie A match between SSC Napoli and Bologna FC at Stadio San Paolo on December 01, 2019, in Naples, Italy. (Getty Images)

Koulibaly, who has been a regular at Napoli, has however been on the sidelines a lot this season. The Senegalese centre-back suffered a muscle injury in December and a thigh problem in February respectively, that saw his limited to just 15 league appearances this season.

For a side that conceded just 36 goals in 38 league outings last season, Koulibaly’s absence in the backline has been clearly evident this year. Napoli have conceded as many as 41 goals already, and are sixth in the league.

A reliable customer for Napoli in the last few years Kalidou Koulibaly has attracted a lot of top clubs.
A reliable customer for Napoli in the last few years Kalidou Koulibaly has attracted a lot of top clubs. (Getty Images)

This has been their worst-ever performance in the last five seasons. Thus, it is evident why Koulibaly is one of the most crucial and first names on the Napoli team sheet. However, with the Napoli ace stating his intentions to leave the club this coming summer, a host of clubs have lined up the star defender’s signature.

Manchester City interested in Koulibaly

Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City is such a team that has been attracted by the centre-back’s consistent displays over the years. Moreover, they are on the lookout for an established centre-back after their defensive mishaps put them second in the league behind leaders Liverpool.

Manchester City players celebrate after scoring against West Ham United at Etihad Stadium on February 19, 2020 in Manchester, United Kingdom. (Getty Images)
Manchester City players celebrate after scoring against West Ham United at Etihad Stadium on February 19, 2020, in Manchester, United Kingdom. (Getty Images)

The defending champions had earlier opted to rely on the side’s existing defenders after the departure of their former skipper and veteran Vincent Kompany. However, an injury to the reliable Aymeric Laporte early in the season forced City boss Guardiola to rely on defensive midfielder Fernandinho in the heart of their defence.

The Brazilian was mostly deployed alongside Nicolas Otamendi and John Stones. However, City struggled defensively, with the side conceding 31 goals from 28 league games, which now seems to have put them out of title contention.

Despite the inconsistency of Otamendi and Stones remaining a major concern, Guardiola opted to not sign a new defender in the winter transfer window. However, he now seems to be aware that he needs a reliable presence at the back if he wishes to take his side back to the top.

Veteran defender Nicolas Otamendi has been inconsistent at the back for Manchester City.
Veteran defender Nicolas Otamendi has been inconsistent at the back for Manchester City. (Getty Images)

That said, City’s pursuit of the £90million-rated Koulibaly makes complete sense. His arrival will add quality to a City squad that just has three centre-backs in its ranks. His arrival will also add confidence to a City backline that seems to lack the same.

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Verdict

Having proved his potential as a world-class defender with Napoli in the last few years, Koulibaly seems like a perfect fit for a top club like Manchester City. Also, considering Otamendi and Stones’ poor form, Koulibaly’s arrival could boost Guardiola’s side in their pursuit of a top-finish next season.