Kalidou Koulibaly has condemned plans by Napoli president, Aurelio De Laurentiis, to tell new signings they must agree to skip the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON).
De Laurentiis proposed the controversial policy on Tuesday, saying that any African player who joined the Serie A club should make a commitment to skip the tournament.
It remains to be seen whether he goes through with the plan, or whether it is enforceable.
The next AFCON is due to be played in Cote d’Ivoire in January 2024.
Last season, Napoli were without Cameroon international Andre-Franck Zambo Anguissa and Senegal defender Koulibaly as they represented their nations in the tournament which took place in January and February.
Koulibaly, who has since moved on to Chelsea FC, felt De Laurentiis was out of line with his remarks and claimed the views would not be endorsed by many others at the club.
“It’s up to him if he wanted to do this, but for me, the most important thing is to respect everybody,” he told a news conference in London.
“When I played there, I was playing also for Senegal, and I won the AFCON with Senegal when I was playing with Napoli.
“It’s true that it was a difficult moment for them when we went to AFCON, but we won it and I’m really happy today.’’
Koulibaly added: “You cannot speak for African national teams like this, I think. You have to have respect as you have for other national teams.
“As captain of Senegal, I think that this is not a good way to speak about African national teams.
“But I respect what he thinks. If he thinks the team can play without African players, it’s up to him. But I think not everybody has the same idea as him at the club.
“I know that some people who are part of this society and team do not have the same idea as him. It’s not the idea of the society or the city, because the city is very respectful.’’ (dpa/NAN)