Following the departure of Kalidou Koulibaly from Napoli to Chelsea, the former club’s president Aurelio De Laurentiis has stated that he will no longer be signing African players.
Unless they decide not to play in the Africa Cup of Nations.
“Enough Africans or they give up playing the African Cup,” the 73-year-old film producer said in an interview with Wall Street Italia.
“I will not buy any more for this reason. We pay the salaries to send them around to play for the world in the middle of the championship.”
Koulibaly captained the Lions of Teranga to their first ever AFCON triumph in a tournament that was staged in Cameroon in January and February 2022.
“It is up to him (De Laurentiis). For me, the most important thing is to respect everybody, I always respect everybody,” Koulibaly said as quoted by talkSPORT.
“When I played there, I was playing also for Senegal, and I won the AFCON. It was indeed a difficult moment for them when we went to AFCON but I am very happy today to have won.”
“We have to respect the national team also. You cannot speak about an African national team like this, I think. You have to have respect as you have for the other national teams.”
“As captain of Senegal, I think it is not a good way to speak about the national team, but I respect what he thinks. If he thinks the team can play without African players, it is up to him,” the 30-year-old defender added.
Apart from Koulibaly, Cameroon’s Zombo Anguissa is the other African player that was away from Napoli in January for AFCON.
“Nobody can tell me not to go to my national team. I have a lot of love for my national team, for my country, and for the people I play for. If somebody tells me not to go there, it’s the only time I will fight with somebody,” Koulibaly noted.
Striker Victor Osimhen is the other African player who would have been away from Napoli during that period but an injury could not allow him to join the Super Eagles of Nigeria for AFCON.
After Koulibaly left the Serie A side to play in the English Premier League for Chelsea, Anguissa and Osimhen are the two African players left at Napoli.