In his column for the Daily Mail, Chris Sutton has said that Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly has all the attributes to succeed at Manchester City if he were to join the Premier League champions.
Sutton felt that the 28-year-old Senegal international came out on top in his duel against Mohamed Salah in Napoli’s Champions League win over Liverpool, adding that his leadership qualities are reminiscent of Reds centre-back Virgil van Dijk.
The centre of defence is a position where Manchester City are currently very sparse, with Nicolas Otamendi the only senior centre-back available to Pep Guardiola after recent injuries to John Stones and Aymeric Laporte.
Given the lack of central defensive options at Guardiola’s disposal, Sutton feels that Koulibaly would be a success if he moved to the Etihad Stadium, especially after his display against Liverpool last night.
Sutton wrote for the Daily Mail: “What a battle we witnessed between Kalidou Koulibaly and Mohamed Salah. The Napoli defender will not have forgotten how Salah danced round him to score in Liverpool’s 1-0 win at Anfield last season.
“Up against Salah again, Koulibaly will have wanted to prove a point. I wonder if Manchester City’s scouts were watching him, too, given their predicament at the back.
“Of course he’d cost a pretty penny, but he has all the attributes that a manager such as Pep Guardiola would want in a central defender. Koulibaly showed last night that he is a leader in this Napoli defence, just as Virgil van Dijk is for Liverpool.”
Koulibaly won two tackles for Napoli against Liverpool last night, as well as making five clearances and two interceptions, while completing 45 of his 56 passes for an 80.3% success rate. [via WhoScored.com]
In Serie A this season, he has won 2.7 aerial duels and 3.3 tackles per game, as well as averaging two interceptions and 3.3 clearances per match. [via WhoScored.com]
Otamendi and Stones have actually won more aerial duels per game for Manchester City in the Premier League, with 3.3 and three respectively, while Laporte can match his two interceptions per game ratio. Otamendi has also made more clearances per game (3.8) than the Napoli defender. [via WhoScored.com]
However, in terms of tackling, Koulibaly has been far superior to the Etihad trio, his 3.3 successful tackles per game leaving Stones (two), Laporte (one) and Otamendi (0.5) in the shade. [via WhoScored.com]
Koulibaly’s tackling ability is clear from his statistics, while he seems to be strong across a host of defensive metrics.
Although Manchester City’s current centre-backs outperform him for some metrics, Koulibaly’s well-balanced skill set suggests that he would be an astute addition to Guardiola’s squad if they were to move for him in the January transfer window.
Manchester City fans, do you think Koulibaly would be a good fit for Guardiola’s defence, especially with the injury problems in that area so far this season? Give us your views in the comments section below!
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