With Manchester United’s injury-hit back-line in desperate need of strengthening in January, a host of centre-back options have been linked to the club in recent weeks.
Mats Hummels, Ron Vlaar, Ryan Shawcross and Winston Reid have all recently been mentioned as potential targets, with Napoli’s Kalidou Koulibaly the latest name to add to the list.
With the promising 23-year-old Frenchman still relatively unknown on English shores, here are five facts on the man who could soon be starring in the Premier League.
1) Koulibaly began his professional career with then-Ligue 2’s Metz after joining from hometown club SR Saint-Dié in July 2009, making 44 total appearances before moving on to Belgian side Racing Genk in the summer of 2012.
2) At 6ft 5in, the towering stopper soon established himself as one of the Juliper Pro League’s most dominant defenders, attracting interest from various Premier League sides after his first season, including even Manchester United themselves.
3) Koulibaly could have represented Senegal at international level, earning a call-up for their 2012 Olympic qualifiers, but instead opted for France, appearing for the Under-20 side at both the Toulon Tournament and World Cup in 2011.
4) Completing a €7 million switch to Napoli over Borussia Dortmund this past summer, the imposing centre-back has since become one of the first names on Rafa Benitez’s team sheet, with his impressive displays also attracting reported interest from Bayern Munich.
Nevertheless, having signed a five-year deal at the Stadio San Paolo, he is unlikely to come cheap.
5) Also capable of featuring at right-back or in a defensive midfield role, the versatile talent cited World Cup-winner and compatriot Lillian Thuram as his inspiration last month, telling E Azzurro: ‘He is the player who inspired me.
‘He gave me a lot of joy, along with the other players who won the World Cup in 1998.
‘I remember what he won and how he played. I hope to develop here at Napoli and reach the levels he did.
‘Thuram is an example on and off the field. He fought against racism, like Malcom X and Nelson Mandela who are two symbols of freedom.’