New Chelsea signing Kalidou Koulibaly has insisted he would never stop anyone from playing football for Senegal.
Senegal’s captain said African nations deserved more respect after the president of his former club Napoli said they would only sign African or South American players who wanted to miss out on matches with their national teams. .
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“Don’t talk to me about Africans now,” Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis told business website Wall Street Italia.
“I wish them all the best, but either they sign a waiver for the Africa Cup of Nations or else…”
“Between this tournament and the World Cup qualifiers in South America, these players are never available!”
But Senegal captain Koulibaly, who led his country to the Africa Cup of Nations title earlier this year, joined Chelsea from Serie A side Napoli in a £34 million ($41 million) move. .
“No one has ever told me not to go to the AFCON or anything like that,” Colbilly said during a news conference on Wednesday.
“Maybe sometimes they try to ask my manager or something like that.
“But me, now as the captain of Senegal, when the AFCON comes I have to be the first one there, the first one in Senegal.”
Koulibaly, who signed a four-year contract with Chelsea after the club was bought by American businessman Todd Bohly’s consortium, added: “Nobody can tell me not to go to my national team. I want to leave my national team. Much love, the team I play for.
“So, if someone asked me to do it, that would be the only time I could fight someone.
“The way we feel all the time with our national team, we are all respected, we wait for players from the Premier League to come, and everyone is happy to be here.
“Everybody thinks like me in the national team. If someone told them not to come, they would always fight to come.
“That’s the most important thing. Everyone has to respect us.”
Coulibaly will now bolster the defense without Antonio Rudiger and Andreas Christensen after they each left Stamford Bridge.
He will wear the number 26 shirt made famous by Chelsea great John Terry after asking the Blues legend for permission.
“I called John and at first, he didn’t believe it was me, he thought it was a joke,” Koulibaly explained. “So he called the team manager to ask if it was really me.
“I know it’s a very important number for John, but it’s also a very important number for me because I got it at Napoli.
“And I was delighted when he said yes because I know what he has done for the club and the supporters here.
“I wanted to tell everyone that I had asked him before because I didn’t want to disrespect a legend at the club.”
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