Kalidou Koulibaly has hit back against Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis’ pledge to only sign African players if they refuse to partake in mid-season Africa Cup of Nations tournaments.
Chelsea’s newest defender captained Senegal’s AFCON-winning side earlier this year, while he also has played in two prior editions for his country.
But with AFCON usually taking place in the middle of the European club season, Napoli chief De Laurentiis recently revealed that he wanted African transfer targets to sign a waiver saying they would not head off for tournaments mid-campaign.
Koulibaly recently departed Napoli as a local legend and was disappointed to hear of De Laurentiis’ comments, and insisted the club president’s views do not reflect that of the region.
“It’s up to him if he wants to tell this. But for me, it is important to always respect everybody,” Koulibaly said at his Chelsea unveiling on Wednesday.
“When I played there [Napoli], I also played for Senegal. I won the AFCON when I was playing in Napoli. It was indeed a difficult moment for them when we went to the AFCON, but we won it and I am really happy today. We just want respect for the African national teams also. We need respect for them like the European national teams.
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“As the 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 that the team can play without African players then it is up to him. I think that not everybody has the same idea of the club as him.
“I know everybody there. I know the supporters and they don’t think like this. I know some people who are part of this association and team who don’t have the same idea as him. It is not the idea of the society or city because the city is very respectful to everyone.
“I think these words are what he thinks and not what the city or society thinks.”