Chelsea have won the fight to sign Kalidou Koulibaly from Napoli amid interest from Arsenal. Antonio Conte wants to make the 25-year-old the centre of his defensive organisation at the club, and the Senegalese international has decided that his time in Italy is over after having failed to sign a new contract with the Serie A club.
The Mirror reports that the Blues have completed a £30m ($39.8m) deal for the defender and will be completed after the player negotiates a severance package with Napoli. The Blues have been trying to get the deal over the line since May, but issue over his image rights posed a major issue with Napoli chairman Aurelio De Laurentiis refusing to let him leave lightly.
Koulibaly has made 36 appearances for Napoli last season and is commended for his defensive contributions for the Serie A club. He will join John Terry, who signed a one year extension on his current contract and Gary Cahill, while Kurt Zouma is still recovering from a knee injury he suffered last season.
Arsenal were looking at Koulibaly to add competition for Per Mertesacker and Gabriel, with the duo having performed well below expectations in the recently concluded season. The Gunners have been exposed at the back for the relative inexperience of Gabriel while Mertesacker is also going into his final year in contract. Koscielny has entered his 30s and the Gunners are looking to build a succession plan for the French international who has been plagued by injuries recently.
However, they were late coming into negotiations and Koulibaly had all but decided to move to Stamford Bridge by the time the Gunners joined the race. The league has seen a horde of transfers over the past week, with Manchester United completing the signing of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Henrikh Mkhitaryan while Manchester City, not to be left behind, announced the capture of Nolito from Celta de Vigo.