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16 Jul, 2022 12:16

Chelsea seal deal for ‘elite’ powerhouse defender

Chelsea have continued their post-Abramovich spending spree
Chelsea seal deal for ‘elite’ powerhouse defender

Premier League giants Chelsea have competed the big-money signing of Senegal captain Kalidou Koulibaly, 31, from Italian side Napoli, as the Londoners again get their checkbook out as they continue to transition out of the Roman Abramovich era.

A fast, powerful center back, Koulibaly has been drafted in from the Serie A side to bolster Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel's defensive ranks after he lost the services of both Antonio Rudiger and Andreas Christensen, crucial bcogs who moved to Spanish sides Real Madrid and Barcelona respectively on free transfers in recent weeks. 

He has signed a four-year contract, with the transfer fee reported to be £32 million ($38 million). 

"I'm very happy to be here with this team at Chelsea," said Koulibaly after inking his contract with the Blues.

"It's a big team in the world and my dream was always to play in the Premier League. Chelsea came first to get me in 2016 but we didn't make it. Now when they came to me I accepted it because they really wanted me to come to the Premier League to play for them.

"When I spoke to my good friends Edou [Mendy] and Jorginho they made my choice easier."

Koulibaly represents a significant transfer coup for the new Todd Boehly regime at Stamford Bridge.

The US businessman, who is part-owner of the baseball team the Los Angeles Dodgers, succeeded former owner Roman Abramovich in the Chelsea boardroom after the Russian billionaire opted to place the club on the open market shortly after the launch of Russia's military operation in Ukraine.

Abramovich was subsequently issued with sanctions by the UK government which were designed to restrict the club's ability to perform day-to-day business.

But with those sanctions now lifted under the club's new ownership, Boehly has acted quickly to provide Tuchel with the reinforcements required to help bridge the gap between Chelsea and Premier League champions Manchester City, as well as Jurgen Klopp's rampant Liverpool side. 

The move for Koulibaly comes shortly after Chelsea also confirmed the deal to sign England international Raheem Sterling from Manchester City.

"Kalidou Koulibaly is one of the world's elite defenders and we are delighted to be welcoming him to Chelsea," Boehly announced in a statement.

"A great leader and an exemplary team player, Kalidou brings a wealth of experience and attributes that will benefit our squad and the club as a whole."

Koulibaly made 317 appearances in eight seasons with Napoli, winning a Coppa Italia and a Supercoppa Italia during his time in Italy. He was also named to the Serie A team of the year on four occasions, as well as being crowned as the Serie A best defender in the 2018-19 season. 

He has also earned 62 caps for the Senegal national team, and captained them to victory at the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations.