Chelsea and Senegalese defender, Kalidou Koulibaly has hit back Aurelio De Laurentiis for a lack of ‘respect’ after the Napoli owner said he won’t sign African players unless they agree to not play in AFCON, Newspremises reports.
Earlier, the 73-year-old film producer slammed the lack of African players’ availability throughout the season and questioned why they should have to pay their full salaries.
Koulibaly, who moved from Napoli to Chelsea this summer, has now hit back at De Laurentiis at a press conference as he was unveiled as a Blues player at Cobham training ground on Wednesday.
He 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.
‘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.’
The experienced defender, 31, completed a £34million switch to Stamford Bridge in July after the Blues lost centre-backs Antonio Rudiger and Andreas Christensen on free transfers.