Napoli warned that they would not allow Kalidou Koulibaly to leave in a cut-price contract, insisting that the interest of the defender during the coronavirus crisis has not budged.

The Senegalese center-back, who turns 29 later this month, was often linked to a move, including to Manchester United and Liverpool’s Premier League duo.

The impact of the pandemic has hit clubs across Europe, with the financial toll leading to suggestions that it could have a major impact on the transfer market.

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Even Napoli has no intention of allowing players to leave their entire worth below it, and sporting director Cristiano Giuntoli said it would take the highest dollar to take away some of the stars of the club.

Addressing Koulibaly ‘s future, Giuntoli told Italian broadcaster Sky Sport 24: “He’s a great footballer and the club is entitled to ask for the price it wants.”

Giuntoli does not buy into the idea that all of a sudden the best players will be available at lower rates than before Covid-19 struck.

“They say negotiations are going to change but in my opinion, this is an alibi. I don’t think the issue of coronavirus can change Koulibaly ‘s price or other top players. Certainly, however, we will come to appreciate the contractual strategy such as the loan with an option to buy, which helps to automatically delay the guarantees and ease the balance. Football will easily adjust,” Giuntoli said.

Giuntoli also had words of praise for Gennaro Gattuso, a Napoli coach whose sister passed away earlier this week.

“We appreciated Gattuso’s technical and human qualities straight away. There is a strong desire to continue with him and we are planning the team of the future together, to come back to compete for the championship. This is a very delicate moment, we are all a little shaken and my thoughts go to him and his parents,” he added.

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