Chelsea ready to beat Barcelona in race for £62m defensive powerhouse

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Barcelona have reportedly joined Chelsea in the race to sign Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly, it has emerged.

Chelsea were linked with a swoop for Koulibaly, who was impressive in the heart of Napoli’s defence last season.

Reports in Italy suggested that The Blues are willing to push for the centre-back in the summer and are aware that Napoli will demand up to £62million for his services.

Koulibaly has played an important role in helping Napoli move to the top of Serie A table, having played every minute of their season so far.

And his performances have supposedly caught the eye of Barcelona as well.

According to Barcelona-based newspaper Mundo Deportivo, manager Ernesto Valverde is seriously eyeing up the Senegal international.

It is reported that Koulibaly has already agreed with Napoli president Aurelio de Laurentiis to sit down and consider the offers from the suitors club at the end of the season.

Koulibaly is supposedly open to leaving Naples after spending three years in the city.

The 26-year-old joined Napoli in summer of 2014 after a two-year stint at Genk, as he started his professional career at Ligue 1 club, Metz.

The French national, who earned his first Senegal cap in 2015, is deemed too expensive at his current valuation by Barca’s technical director and transfer guru Robert Fernandez, Mundo Deportivo claim.

However, the club have not given up hope to sign him summer, with scouts regularly watching Napoli games while they also want to bring Koulibaly’s team-mate Lorenzo Insigne at the club.

As for Chelsea, they failed to sign Koulibaly or Leonardo Bonucci before the start of the season and eventually settled on Roma’s Antonio Rudiger.

However, Antonio Conte is supposedly still keen to sign Koulibaly before another European rival muscle in.