Chelsea tried to sign Napoli centre-back Kalidou Koulibaly on more than one occasion over the summer, according to the Italian club’s chairman.
Outspoken chief Aurelio De Laurentiis claims Napoli rejected a Chelsea offer of £58million for Koulibaly at the end of the summer transfer window prompting Blues boss Antono Conte to move for David Luiz.
Conte had a £38million bid for the centre-half rejected in July according to numerous sources, but the Italian returned with a last-minute offer only to be rebuffed by the Serie A club.
“They offered to me £30, 35, 40, 45, 50 [million],” De Laurentiis told Sky Sports News HQ. “Mr Conte I said, ‘Marina [Granovskaia, Chelsea director] is behind me, follow me’, I offered him that.
“Last moment, two days before the closing of the market, I hear £58million – something like that.”
Koulibaly eventually signed a new contract with Napoli that ties him to the Serie A club until 2021 but, according to De Laurentiis, the 25-year-old could be still be sold next year.
“Koulibaly I need here to make the match,” added De Laurentiis. “I need to play, so I need the players. Koulibaly, this year, will remain here. Next year we will speak about.”
Asked to confirm if Chelsea made a £58m offer, De Laurentiis said: “Yes. He will never say it is true because I know Antonio. Ciao Antonio.”
Conte eventually turned to former Chelsea defender and PSG centre-back Luiz, who signed on deadline day for £34million.
The Chelsea boss has admitted the opportunity to bring Luiz back to Stamford Bridge was a deadline-day decision.
“When we take the decision about the players, we always take the decision together – me and the club,” Conte said last month.
“I told you that this transfer market was very difficult for us to reach our targets, but at the last minute, on the last day, there was this situation which was good for me and the club to improve the squad.”