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Chelsea defender Kalidou Koulibaly has responded to Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis' declaration he will no longer sign African players 'unless they sign an agreement backing out of the Africa Cup of Nations'.
The 73-year-old caused controversy after giving his views on the tournament during a recent appearance on Wall Street Italia.
De Laurentiis complained about a number of players missing club fixtures between January and February for this year's showcase event.
Koulibaly, who swapped the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona for Stamford Bridge last month, isn't happy with how African nations are being treated.
He explained per ESPN: "You cannot speak about an African national team like this. You have to have respect like you have for a European team."
De Laurentiis said owners were 'idiots' for paying the players while they travel across the world during the domestic campaign for other teams.
He stressed he has no issues with the players themselves.
"I told them lads, don’t talk to me about Africans anymore!" he vented during the event via Football Italia.
Napoli president Aurelio de Laurentiis says he doesn't want any more Africans at the club unless they commit in writing to not playing at the Africa Cup of Nations.pic.twitter.com/GBfO865zVg— Sam Street (@samstreetwrites) August 2, 2022
"I love them, but either they sign something confirming they’ll back out of playing the Africa Cup of Nations, or otherwise between that tournament, the World Cup qualifiers in South America, these players are never available!
"We are the idiots who pay salaries only to send them all over the world playing for others."
ESPN quote De Laurentiis as stating: "Or they sign a waiver giving up their right to participate to the Africa Cup of Nations tournaments or between AFCON and the championships in South America.
"I never have them [Napoli players] available."
Koulibaly spent eight years with Napoli but decided it was time for a new challenge.
He's taken the number 26 shirt at Chelsea, which was previously worn by club legend and former captain John Terry.
In footage posted to social media, Koulibaly asked Terry if he would be allowed to take the number, which had been vacant since Terry's departure in 2017.
Knowing Koulibaly wore 26 at Napoli, Terry accepted and thanked the 31-year-old for his phone call.