Kalidou Koulibaly is a professional footballer who plays as centre back for the Senegal national team. Koulibaly began his professional club career with French team Metz in 2010, before moving to Belgian club Genk in 2012. He joined Italian team Napoli in 2014. As Koulibaly was born in France to Senegalese parents, he was eligible to represent both nations at international level, and initially played for the France national under-20 football team. He later made his senior debut with Senegal in 2015 and was a member of the Senegal squad that took part at the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations. He was named to the side that represented Senegal at the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
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Koulibaly was born and raised in France by Senegalese parents, and was therefore eligible for both nations. He played for the French under-20 team starting in 2011 and played six times during the FIFA U-20 World Cup in Colombia. However, in early September 2015, Koulibaly changed federations and joined the Senegal national football team, despite the interest to call him for Les Bleus from Didier Deschamps. He made his debut on 5 September 2015 in an AFCON qualifier against Namibia in a 2–0 victory. He was a member of the Senegal squad that took part at the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations. In May 2018, he was named in Senegal’s 23-man squad for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia. Koulibaly played all three matches, as Senegal were knocked out in the group stage of the tournament after becoming the first team in FIFA World Cup history to be eliminated due to fair play tiebreaker rules. Koulibaly joined Serie A club S.S.C. Napoli on 2 July 2014 on a five-year contract, for a fee around the margin of £6.5 million. He made his debut on 19 August in a UEFA Champions League play-off round qualifier, in which Napoli drew 1–1 with Athletic Bilbao. Napoli went on to lose the second leg 3–1, therefore sending them out of the competition. Koulibaly scored his first goal for the Italian team on 24 September in a 3–3 draw with Palermo. In April 2019 Koulibaly was the victim of racist abuse from an apparent Arsenal fan during a match between the two teams.
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A large, aggressive, quick, and physically strong yet elegant player, Koulibaly is recognised for his aerial prowess, anticipation, positioning, tackling, character, technique, and passing ability as a defender. He has also been praised by pundits for his overall solidity as a player, and his ability to make interceptions; however, he has also drawn criticism for giving away too many fouls. Due to his versatility, he can play both in his usual role as a central defender, or as a full back on either the right or left flank, in both a three or four-man defence; he has even been deployed as a defensive midfielder. During his time at Napoli, his ability to play the ball out from the back saw him function as a ball-playing centre-back in manager Maurizio Sarri’s attacking, possession based-system. Currently considered to be one of the best and most complete defenders in world football in the media, his ability, playing style, tall stature, and imposing physique have earned him the nicknames “K2” and The Wall from his fans.