By Alex Stevens
Everton are in a three-horse race to sign Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly, according to the player’s agent.
Chelsea and Juventus are also keeping close tabs on the highly rated Senegal centre-back.
Sport Italia television expert Ifredo Pedulla claimed on his website last week that Everton had tabled a stunning £46million bid for Koulibaly, 25, that would potentially annihilate the club’s transfer record.
His contract expires in 2019 and Napoli offered him a new deal at the weekend, but that has been rejected by the Senegal international.
“I was in Dimaro on Saturday and we discussed a contract renewal however, we are not at the point of reaching an agreement,” Koulibaly’s agent said, as quoted by the Sun. “The desire of the player is to leave the club, not renew.
“We are told by the club that he is a great player but from the renewal on offer, we don’t see this.
“Last year they wanted to sell him, stating he was not focused enough but then last season he has shown all his quality.
“To the fans I say stay calm because he won’t be joining Juventus. Chelsea and Everton are still interested as they are both searching for a central defender of his quality.”
Pedulla, who has 151,000 Twitter followers and a massive Facebook following, claims that Chelsea are not willing to pay more that £37.6million for the defender.
The reported size of Everton’s bid demonstrates Farhad Moshiri’s growing influence at the club after he became a majority shareholder earlier this year.
Koulibaly would become the most expensive player in Everton’s history if the reported offer was accepted, comfortably surpassing £28million record signing Romelu Lukaku.
Koulibaly has been at Napoli for two years since joining from Metz for £6.5million, and has now played 60 times in Serie A.
The defender played 33 times in the Italian top flight in the 2015-16 season as Napoli finished nine points behind Juventus in second.
Ronald Koeman has been active in his search for players since arriving at Goodison Park this summer, but has been unsuccessful in the hunt for the likes of Graziano Pelle and most recently Axel Witsel.