Kalidou Koulibaly was close to signing for his current club Chelsea in 2015 but Napoli owner Aurelio De Laurentiis did not allow him to leave the Serie A side at that time, the Senegal defender said in an interview published on Wednesday.
The 31-year-old, who captained Senegal to victory at the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations, joined the London side in July after eight seasons at Napoli.
Koulibaly said Antonio Conte – now at the helm of Tottenham Hotspur but manager at Chelsea at that time – had tried to sign him after his first year with Napoli.
“I asked respectfully to the owner that I wanted to leave for Chelsea but he told me that it wouldn’t be possible,” he told https://www.theguardian.com/football/2022/aug/03/i-had-to-wait-chelseas-koulibaly-on-realising-his-premier-league-dream?CMP=share_btn_tw the Guardian.
“So I waited a bit and continued my conversation with them but they really didn’t want me to leave the club so I decided to renew my contract to stay in Napoli.
“For me it was a bit hard to say no because it was my dream to play in the Premier League since I was a child.”
After realising his childhood dream, Koulibaly’s position at Chelsea meant his prospects of being in a trophy-winning team were stronger. Although Napoli came close to clinching the Serie A Scudetto under manager Maurizio Sarri, Koulibaly lifted only one Italian Cup trophy while at the club.
“With my personal experience, I know you don’t have to give a limit to your dream and my dream is to win everything with Chelsea,” he added.
“I know it will be difficult. I don’t come with arrogant behaviour. I come with respect, a lot of respect for everybody, but I know Chelsea is a big team and a team that has to win, that’s used to winning.”