The London Evening Standard believes Napoli centre-half Kalidou Koulibaly could end up costing close to £50m, reporting that Chelsea had a whopping £42m bid for the Senegalese stopper turned down this summer.
After John Stones’ £47.5m move from Everton to Manchester City, a record for a defender and an Englishman, the summer scramble for centre-halves is in full swing, with Napoli also bidding £21m for potential Koulibaly replacement Nikola Maksimovic, of Torino.
Everton, who appear to have been bullied out of the race for Koulibaly by their fellow Premier League blues, were already gearing up to spend big, with whispers of a Toffees move for £50m-plus rated Wolfsburg winger Julian Draxler in the works.
New boss Ronald Koeman, emboldened by TV millions, majority shareholder Farhad Moshiri’s lofty ambitions and now Stones’ fee, has licence to rebuild practically from scratch, but the former Southampton gaffer has been found wanting so far this summer, or failed by those in charge of recruitment, bagging just two low-key signings.
Ashley Williams looks set to replenish the centre-half ranks immediately, with a £12m deal agreed for the Swansea and Wales captain, but he’s almost a decade longer in the tooth than his predecessor and Everton, 10/3 to finish in the top six this term, were terrible in defence last season, Stones and all.
Koulibaly seemingly out of reach, Koeman has turned to Sunderland’s Lamine Kone, with local website ChronicleLive reporting a £15.3m bid for the Ivorian, signed by now-England boss Sam Allardyce for only £6m in January, has been rejected.
Veteran centre-half Phil Jagielka, a stalwart under current Sunderland boss David Moyes during their time together at Goodison Park, was requested in part exchange for Kone according to the same source.
Moyes’ reported targeting of Anderlecht’s Kara Mbodji and Blackburn’s Shane Duffy, not to mention Jagielka, suggests Sunderland are moving on already, but Everton will once again be wary of Chelsea interest, with the Daily Mail claiming Kone is one of two Koulibaly back-up plans.
The other is Benfica’s Victor Lindelof, for the sake of completing the centre-half swapshop.