Chelsea in talks to sign Koulibaly and Ake as Napoli star confirms deal 'on right track'

Blues in the market for defensive reinforcements after exits of Rudiger and Christensen

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Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly has revealed that a deal to join Chelsea is "on the right track", with the Premier League club also reportedly in talks with Manchester City over the return of Nathan Ake.

Chelsea are in the market for defensive reinforcements after the departures of Antonio Rudiger to Real Madrid and Andreas Christensen to Barcelona. Captain Cesar Azpilicueta could also leave but that will likely depend on Chelsea's ability to sign a replacement for the versatile Spaniard.

Koulibaly has been linked with a transfer to Chelsea in the past and a move could materialise this summer after the Senegal international's agent, Fali Ramadani, met with club representatives. It is being reported that a fee for Koulibaly, who has entered the final year of his contract, will be around £34 million.

Juventus are also understood to be keen on Koulibaly but Napoli would prefer a deal with Chelsea to avoid selling one of their best players to a direct rival.

The 31-year-old centre-back appeared to confirm talks are ongoing over a possible move to Chelsea and was quoted as saying: "I'll confirm that later, but it's on the right track."

Koulibaly has been a mainstay of the Napoli defence since joining the Serie A side in 2014, making 314 appearances in all competitions and helping to establish the club at the top end of Italian football. He has been capped 62 times by Senegal and was the captain of the team which won the Africa Cup of Nations title in February.

Chelsea are also reportedly closing in on a deal for Manchester City defender Ake, which would see the Netherlands international return to Stamford Bridge five years after leaving for Bournemouth.

According to the BBC, talks over a deal for Ake are at an advanced stage, with multiple reports claiming the transfer fee would be in the region of £45m.

Kalidou Koulibaly is quoted as saying a move to Chelsea is "on the right track". AFP

Ake joined Chelsea as a youth player in 2011 and spent five years at the club, although rarely featured in the first team and spent most of that time out on loan. He joined Bournemouth in 2017 for a club record £20m and after impressing on the south coast, moved to City for £40m in 2020.

The 27-year-old Dutchman, who can play at centre-back and left-back, has struggled to hold down a regular place in Pep Guardiola's side but is viewed by Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel as an ideal fit for his three-man central defence.

Should the move go through it would see Ake immediately reunite with England forward Raheem Sterling, who is expected to be imminently announced as the Blues' first major signing of the summer.

Nathan Ake could be set for a return to Chelsea. AFP

A fee of around £50m has been agreed between Chelsea and City for Sterling, who has entered the final year of his contract with the Premier League champions.

Chelsea are in the United States for a pre-season tour and the club are hopeful that Sterling will be available for their opening tour match against Club America in Las Vegas on Saturday.

The reigning world champions are also reportedly considering approaches for Bayern Munich winger Serge Gnabry and AC Milan's Rafael Leao having appeared to miss out on top target Raphinha, with the Leeds winger set to join Barcelona.

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Updated: July 13, 2022, 6:07 AM