Manchester City chief football operations officer Omar Berrada has interestingly denied reports of any interest in Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly, following strong links throughout the summer transfer window.
Koulibaly was heavily touted to join Manchester City but the Cityzens failed to meet Aurelio De Laurentiis’ £75 million asking price and subsequently moved on to alternatives.
Thus, Manchester City completed a club-record £65 million deal to bring Benfica centre-back Ruben Dias to the Etihad Stadium. The 23-year-old's arrival was only completed in the later stages of the window, which suggests he wasn't the first choice.
However, Manchester City chief Berrada has strongly dismissed suggestions that the club were pursuing Koulibaly ahead of transfer deadline day. He also expressed his interest at the social media coverage the supposed saga received.
Manchester City chief dismisses Kalidou Koulibaly links
Speaking in an exclusive interview with The Athletic, Berrada said:
“The truth is, we never were in negotiations with his club at all about him. It was very interesting to see the amount of noise that was coming out from certain media outlets and social media. I smiled because there were certain instances where people were reporting that the deal was agreed, done, about to happen, he was going to be announced in a few days, when we were never in touch at all with Napoli about him. He’s definitely a top, top player, so some consideration was given to him, but really within some parameters that were very clear to us — and those parameters never came into play, so he was never really considered in that sense."
Regardless of whether Ruben Dias was Pep Guardiola's first-choice central-defensive target or not, he could pose as a better option in the long term.
Only 23 years old, Dias still has a lot to learn but already has mass experience at the top level and, like Koulibaly, can comfortably fit into the way Guardiola wants to play.
On the other hand, Koulibaly has been recognised as one of the world's best central defenders in recent years. However, Napoli's £75m valuation presents a major risk, considering the Senegal international is now 29.
It certainly feels like if Manchester City were ever going to complete the signing of Koulibaly, it would've been this summer. That didn't materialise though, so now it'll be interesting to witness how Dias gets on in England.Published 14 Oct 2020, 13:50 IST