Kalidou Koulibaly has issued a firm response to Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis following his comments about the reliability of African players.
The Chelsea defender, who joined the Blues from the Serie A club this summer, was asked about De Laurentiis’ recent comments where he suggested he wouldn’t sign a player from Africa again.
In an interview with Wall Street Italia, as quoted by Gazzetta dello Sport, De Laurentiis said: “Enough Africans, or they give up playing the African Cup.
“I won’t 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 missed a chunk of the 2021/22 season as he captained Senegal to Africa Cup of Nations glory in January and February.
But he insists he has absolutely no regrets leaving his club to play in the tournament and urged De Laurentiis to show more respect.
“It’s up to him,” Koulibaly said of De Laurentiis at a press conference. “For me the most important thing is to respect everybody. I always respect everybody.
“When I played there I was playing also for Senegal, and I won the AFCON. It’s true that it was a difficult moment for them when we went to the AFCON, but I’m really happy today (to have won).
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“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 like you have for the other national teams.
“As captain of Senegal, I think it’s 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’s up to him.
“But I think not everyone in the club has the same idea as him. I know everybody over there, I know the supporters and the supporters don’t think like this.
“It’s up to him, but it’s not an idea of the society of the city, because the city is really respectful. This is what he thinks, not what the city is thinking or the society is thinking.”
Asked if he had ever been approached to discuss not playing for Senegal at AFCON in his career, Koulibaly replied: “No, never. Nobody ever told me not to go to AFCON. Maybe sometimes they tried to ask my agent, but with me as captain as Senegal, even as a player of Senegal, when AFCON comes I want to be the first one there.
“In December I was injured, so I came to Senegal early to start my training with the team. I was really happy and excited to start the 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, for the people I play for. If somebody tells me not to go there, it’s the only time I will fight with somebody.
“We are all respectful. We waited for everyone to come from the Premier League a bit late, but when everybody came everybody was happy to be there. I think in Africa we all think like this. We have respect for everybody, but it someone tells them to not come they will all fight to come.
“It’s the most important thing, and everybody has to give us respect like we give respect to everybody.”
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