Just after a hectic number of months on and off the pitch, Chelsea ended up underneath strain to improve the coronary heart of their defence this summer months, owning dropped two centre-backs in Andreas Christensen and Antonio Rudiger to totally free agency. But by landing Napoli’s Kalidou Koulibaly for close to €40 million, they have signed one of the very best defenders in the business enterprise.
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In an age when even the traditional top rated European clubs are practically completely on the lookout for value and likely from new arrivals, a €40m transfer rate for a 31-calendar year-outdated in the closing yr of his contract may possibly appear somewhat extravagant. Koulibaly is rarely a “Moneyball” signing from a pure transfer current market viewpoint, particularly as the Senegal international was handed a four-12 months offer with an selection to lengthen till the stop of the 2026-27 year. Nevertheless Chelsea have made as clever a preference as their supporters could have hoped for and he is the type of participant who can straight away support the club contend for the Premier League title once again.
Getting to be a star at Napoli because his arrival from Genk for around €8m in 2014, Koulibaly has created his identify in Serie A and when requested what his weak factors had been, a person chief scout from the Italian league informed ESPN: “What weak factors? It is hard [to find any]. He is a person of the very best all-around in his placement. He just keeps obtaining improved and better, specially the psychological aspect of his recreation — even the concentration lapses are now number of and much in between.”
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Certainly, there are several shortcomings in Koulibaly’s match, barring the occasional slip-ups that can be envisioned when showcasing in a placement in which any error is ordinarily uncovered. With centre-backs always being in the thick of the motion defensively — owning to read the recreation perfectly and time their interventions to the split next — the odd misjudgement arrives with the territory. Yet Koulibaly normally presents the perception of being in control and when he goes in for a problem, he does so with complete conviction.
Kalidou Koulibaly – Serie A 2021-22
Games: 27 (12th= at Napoli)
Minutes: 2,406 (5th)
Touches: 1,966,391 (5th)
Recoveries: 167 (5th)
Go Completion: 86.9% (10th)
Deal with %: 44.2% (4th)
Duel %: 59.5% (4th)
Aerial Duel %: 55.2% (6th)
*Appropriate as of July 20, 2022
The most striking facet of Koulibaly’s game is the authority he delivers to the pitch. Usually frowned on in the age of analytics — still nonetheless appreciated by coaches and supervisors — the concept of “existence” can be ambiguous and controversial to some. Even so, for those people who spend notice to the fashion in which a player conducts himself on the pitch, when it will come to the two design and assurance the defender shows rare attributes. He plays with his head up, is tranquil in possession, dominates his opponents and plays with a certain “aura” — an additional banned phrase in a lot of analytics departments — which is not essentially frequent for modern-day-day defenders.
Taking to the pitch with these kinds of an air of top quality would not indicate that you would not make mistakes — concentration lapses and moments of sloppy distribution can happen, at times even as a consequence of what some may consider an over-self-confident participating in design — but Koulibaly’s self-belief is contagious to the position where by it spills in excess of on to his teammates.
However for all his calmness in possession, or when working with strain situations, the new Chelsea centre-again even now demonstrates an aggressive design and style of defending. Staying cell and rapid about the floor, he prefers to deal with danger early, usually breaking out of the defensive device to gain the ball substantial up the pitch. Most likely even far more importantly, even though, the 31-year-aged is outstanding at one-vs-a single defending and he seldom has to rely on a teammate to get him out of difficulty.
Koulibaly vs. Premier League defendersPlayerTeamGmTcklAerialsBlksIntClrTckl%Duel%RecK. KoulibalyNapoli27398725298444%60%167J. MatipLiverpool314716014449059%68%185V. van DijkLiverpool3416151143110748%74%204A. RudigerChelsea34487611288747%60%183T. SilvaChelsea32328931449549%65%214R. DiasMan Metropolis29268713236558%53%108A. LaporteMan Metropolis33338410206139%63%182
Stats calculated across the European leagues can usually be deceptive owing the wide variety in actively playing models and job requirements for the players. Even though his quantities present that he’s however powering the likes of Liverpool’s Virgil van Dijk in general, he compares favourably with Person City’s Ruben Dias and Rudiger, who is now at True Madrid. Not terrible corporation to retain.
Throughout his eight-12 months stint at Napoli, Koulibaly also shown a year-on-calendar year advancement tactically. Though his normal position was never under risk in the course of that interval — neither via a operate of adverse performances nor accidents — he even now steadily matured. Owning very first arrived as a defender who was somewhat coy with the ball, he waved goodbye to the passionate San Paolo enthusiasts as one particular of the best ball-enjoying centre-backs in Serie A — not often worried to hearth pinpoint passes as a result of crowded locations in the center of the pitch as an alternative of opting for an simple ball to his complete-back or a central defensive companion.
Even with typically remaining fielded as a left-sided centre-back in a back again four at Napoli (nevertheless head mentor Luciano Spalletti did sometimes revert to a back again-3 past time), the tasteful defender ought to have number of concerns slotting in at Chelsea. However the club lost a world-class defender in Rudiger, they have immediately found a globe-class substitution — albeit 1 with a little distinct qualities and technological profile.