Kalidou Koulibaly hits back at Napoli owner's lack of 'respect' after AFCON rant 1 week ago

Kalidou Koulibaly hits back at Napoli owner's lack of 'respect' after AFCON rant

'I think these words are what he thinks and not what the city or society thinks'

Kalidou Koulibaly has criticised Aurelio De Laurentiis for a lack of 'respect' after the Napoli owner slammed African players for competing in the Africa Cup of Nations during the season.

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The 73-year-old questioned why they should have to pay their full salaries and took aim at their lack of availability throughout the season.

However, Koulibaly, who signed for Chelsea from Napoli this summer, fired back at De Laurentiis at a press conference as he was unveiled as a Blues player at Cobham training ground on Wednesday.

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The Senegalese defender said: "It's up to him if he wants to tell this. But for me, it is important to always respect everybody.

"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. 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.

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"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."

What did De Laurentiis say?

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While film producer De Laurentiis claimed that he he 'loves' Napoli's African players, he admitted that he was annoyed about having to pay them so much for the amount of time they are away.

"I told them, 'lads, don't talk to me about Africans anymore!'" he said during a streamed event.

"I love them, but either they sign something confirming they'll back out of playing the Africa Cup of Nations, or otherwise between that tournament, the World Cup qualifiers in South America, these players are never available!

"We are the idiots who pay salaries only to send them all over the world playing for others."

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Koulibaly completed a £34million move to Chelsea last month, with the Blues having lost centre backs Antonio Rudiger and Andreas Christensen on free transfers. The defender, who spent eight years with Napoli, won the 2019/20 Coppa Italia and the Supercoppa Italia in 2014 during his time in Italy.

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