Monday Apr 19, 2021. 12:00
Senegal captain Kalidou Koulibaly was on the radar of English giants Chelsea during Antonio Conte’s tenure as the club manager.
The Italian manager served as Chelsea manager between 2016 and 2018 – winning the Premier League and FA Cup titles.
Koulibaly, who is is recognised for his aerial prowess, tackling, technique and passing ability as a defender, is the current third captain at Italian club, SSC Napoli.
Conte lauded Koulibaly as one of the strongest defenders in the world after Inter drew 1-1 with Napoli in a Serie A match on Sunday.
“For me, Koulibaly is among the two strongest defenders in the world. He is really very, very strong,” Conte said on Goal Italy.
“I wanted to take him at Chelsea. And he has grown even more. There is no need to introduce Koulibaly to Romelu [Lukaku]. He knows him but Romelu has also grown a lot.”
Koulibaly, who has been linked with English giants Manchester City and Liverpool FC in the past, was born and raised in France by Senegalese parents, and was therefore eligible for both nations.
The 39-year-old played for the French under-20 team starting in 2011 and played six times during the FIFA U-20 World Cup in Colombia.
However, in early September 2015, Koulibaly changed federations and joined the Senegal national football team, despite the interest to call him for Les Bleus from Didier Deschamps
He made his debut for Senegal in September 2015 in an AFCON qualifier against Namibia in a 2-0 victory.