Diego Maradona has sparked controversy by claiming that Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly would be a Barcelona or Real Madrid player if he was white.
In his attempts to praise the Senegal international, Maradona quickly turned the conversation into a race row.
Koulibaly’s name has been linked with some of Europe’s elite sides, including Bayern Munich and Chelsea, but Maradona feels there is a prejudice holding the 26-year-old back.
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He’s played an integral part in Napoli’s title bid - which they ultimately lost to Juventus - with Football Italia reporting last month that the Partenopei were keen to offer Koulibaly a new contract that included a €40 million release clause.
That’s how highly he is rated at the Stadio San Paolo. But, if Maradona is to be believed, Napoli might not have to worry about the defender leaving for a while.
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The Argentine told Piuenne, per Goal: “He is phenomenal, the best defender in Serie A.
“There is a lot of racism around him. If he was white, he’d be playing for Real Madrid or Barcelona."
Maradona's former team lost the title
Napoli’s 1-0 defeat to Roma on Monday handed Juventus their fifth straight Serie A title.
Maradona spent seven seasons at Napoli as a player and was clearly bitter as he extended his congratulations to the Old Lady.
“Juventus deserve this Scudetto, as they had such a long run of results without dropping points,” he added. “I also have to say, in all honesty, they were extremely lucky! Even in my day they’d have two shots on target and score four goals.
“I’m not whining, I’m just saying the truth that all of Italy knows.
“The real difference is on the bench. Today [Napoli boss] Maurizio Sarri looked at the bench and did not have as many alternatives as Max Allegri.
“Juventus have phenomenal players, but also the Italian referees! It’s nothing new, the Juve players are always right. [Napoli president Aurelio] De Laurentiis ought to make himself respected, the way other Napoli directors did in the past.”
Five in a row for Juve
How salty. Maradona continued by mentioning Fiorentina striker Federico Bernardeschi’s disallowed goal in the 2-1 defeat to Juventus on Sunday that put Allegri’s side on the brink of the title.
The former Barcelona maestro added: ”Fiorentina’s disallowed goal yesterday was scandalous…”
Maradona was part of Napoli’s team the last time they won the Scudetto in 1990. Clearly, Juventus’ incredible turnaround - they won 24 of 25 league games to recover from a miserable start - rubbed him the wrong way.
Reflecting on his seventh title win (nine if you include the two in 2005 and 2006 that were revoked during Italy’s match-fixing scandal), legendary goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon said: “We’ve overcome a million adversities to get to this position,” per Juve’s website.
“The difficulties we faced at the start of the campaign served us well and helped to fuel us on to the great fightback we’ve staged over recent months.”