The Senegal international praised the Belgian who became the Partenopei’s all-time leading scorer at the weekend
Kalidou Koulibaly has described his teammate Dries Mertens as the “Higuain of Napoli” after he became the club’s leading scorer in their 2-1 aggregate victory over Inter Milan in the Coppa Italia semi-finals on Saturday.
The Nerazzurri had taken an early lead via former Tottenham Hotspur man Christian Eriksen before Mertens equalised four minutes to the half-time whistle to secure a 1-1 draw on the night.
The Belgian’s goal tally now stands at 122 ahead of Marek Hamsik (121) Diego Maradona (115), Attila Sallustro (108) and Edinson Cavani (104).
“I spent a lot of time with him [Mertens] in the early days of Napoli,” Koulibaly told Sky Sports Italia.
“He came to pick me up at home and took me to Castel Volturno. We had a lot of laughs on the journeys between Naples and the sports centre.
“He spoke to me in my first year and told me not to give up because he believed in me a lot. It can be seen that he grew up in a serene and happy family. I wish him all the best in the world because he really deserves it.
“He has grown a lot, has become a killer. He is the Higuain of Napoli because he knows how to do everything, he is a really important player and I am proud to play with him.”
Higuain played for Napoli between 2013 and 2016, scoring an impressive 91 goals in 146 competitive appearances. The Argentine joined Juventus thereafter and will be up against his former employers in the Coppa Italia final on Wednesday.
Koulibaly played the entire 90 minutes on Saturday, his second appearance this year after having battled with a muscle injury since December 2019.
The Senegal international continues to be linked with a move away from the San Paolo with the likes of Manchester United and PSG long interested in him.
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However, Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis emphasised on the pages of Corriere dello Sport, that he would not be selling the 28-year-old for less than €100 million.
“If [Manchester] City, United or PSG showed up with 100 million euros I would think about it and he [Koulibaly] could leave if that was his will. 60 million I don’t even consider,” he said.
Koulibaly will be hoping to take part in Serie A’s resumption when Napoli travel to Hellas Verona next Tuesday.