Chelsea’s Koulibaly says no one can stop him representing Senegal

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London (AFP) – Chelsea’s new signing Kalidou Koulibaly has insisted he will never let anyone stop him from playing football for Senegal.

The Senegalese captain said African nations deserved more respect after the president of his former club Napoli said he would only sign African or South American players willing to miss out on competitions with their national teams.

“Don’t talk to me about Africans anymore,” Naples president Aurelio de Laurentiis told business site Wall Street Italia.

“I wish them good luck, but either they withdraw from the African Cup or…”

“Between this tournament and the World Cup qualifiers in South America, these players are never available!

But Senegalese captain Koulibaly, who led his country to the Africa Cup of Nations title earlier this year before joining Chelsea in a £34m ($41m) move from Napoli in Serie A, was not impressed.

“Nobody ever told me not to go to CAN or anything like that,” Koulibaly said at a press conference on Wednesday.

“Maybe sometimes they try to ask my manager or something.

“But me, now as captain of Senegal, when the AFCON arrives, I have to be the first there, the first in Senegal.”

Koulibaly, who signed a four-year contract with Chelsea following the club’s takeover by American businessman Todd Boehly’s consortium, added: “No one can tell me not to go to my national team. I I have a lot of love for my national team, the team I play for.

“So if someone told me to do that, that would be the only time I could fight someone.

“The way we feel all the time with my national team, we’re all respectful, we expect players to come from the Premier League, and everyone is happy to be here.

“Everyone thinks the same as 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.”

Koulibaly will now bolster a defense without Antonio Rudiger and Andreas Christensen after each leaving 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 too, because I took it at Napoli.

“And when he said yes, I was very happy, because I know what he has done for the club and for the fans here.

“I wanted to tell everyone that I had already asked him, because I didn’t want to disrespect a club legend.”

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