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Everton manager Rafa Benitez has been dealt a blow after Napoli manager Luciano Spalletti said Kalidou Koulibaly was not for sale in the summer transfer window. Benitez is looking to reshape his squad after arriving as Carlo Ancelotti’s successor but it seems he may have to look elsewhere for a new defender.
Everton are in the market for reinforcements this summer following a disappointing 10th place finish under Ancelotti last season.
Benitez has plenty to do to win over fans, given his connections to rivals Liverpool, and one way to do that is in the transfer window.
The Toffees have been linked with a whole host of players this summer but are yet to bring in any new faces since Benitez was confirmed as manager on June 30.
Everton are reportedly in talks with Asmir Begovic as they look for a back-up goalkeeper to Jordan Pickford, but fans will be hoping for some more exciting additions.
According to Calciomercato, Everton have submitted a bid for Napoli centre-back Koulibaly, who has also been linked with Manchester United, Liverpool and Manchester City by Corriere dello Sport.
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If that is the case, then Benitez and Everton’s recruitment staff won’t want to hear what Napoli’s manager said in a press conference on Friday.
“Koulibaly is one of the vice-captains in this squad,” Spalletti said.
“As far as I am concerned, he is staying at Napoli. It’s not easy to find a replacement for him, all his teammates appreciate him and I’ve realised he talks constantly on the pitch.
“Everyone respects his presence in the locker room.”
Koulibaly has two years remaining on his Napoli contract and Corriere dello Sport reports that the Italian club will only sell for £42.7million (€50m).
However, potential suitors are not willing to go over £34m (€40m) for the 30-year-old Senegal international.
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Another defender Everton have been with is Juventus’ Merih Demiral, who is also on the cards for Tottenham.
The Turkey international is looking likely to leave Juve this summer and according to Tuttosport, the Italian club want £30m (€35m) for his signature.
While Everton are yet to get off the mark in the transfer market, Benitez is happy with the work on the training pitch so far in pre-season.
“Everything is going according to plan. Normally [in initial meetings with a squad], you say to them… we want to do well and support them and try to improve them as players,” he told evertontv.
“To create a team spirit that will allow us to compete with anyone. And I also explain what I am expecting from them is to give everything.
“That is what I am expecting and what the fans are expecting from the players.”
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