Kalidou Koulibaly, who was also interesting Juventus, had one year left on his Napoli contract, and his signing follows the £47.5m capture of Raheem Sterling from Manchester City; the defender has penned a four-year deal at Chelsea and has joined up with the club in Las Vegas
Chelsea have completed a deal to sign Napoli centre-back Kalidou Koulibaly for a fee in the region of £33m.
The central defender, who has 62 caps for Senegal, has signed a four-year contract worth around £160,000 per week (£8.2m a year) net plus bonuses to move to Stamford Bridge. He flew out to Las Vegas on Friday to join up with his new team-mates on their pre-season tour of USA.
Koulibaly, who was also interesting Juventus, had just one year left on his Napoli contract, and his signing follows the £47.5m capture of Raheem Sterling from Manchester City.
“I’m very happy to be here with this team at Chelsea,” Koulibaly said in a statement. “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.”
The Blues lost Antonio Rudiger to Real Madrid and Andreas Christensen to Barcelona this summer – both on free transfers – leaving Thiago Silva, Trevoh Chalobah and Malang Sarr as the only senior centre backs in Thomas Tuchel’s squad.
Koulibaly, 31, made over 300 appearances for the Serie A club since joining from Belgian side Genk eight years ago, being named in the Serie A team of the year on four occasions, as well as being named the best defender in Italy in 2019.
Chelsea still have an interest in Manchester City’s Nathan Ake, Sevilla’s Jules Kounde, RB Leipzig’s Josko Gvardiol and Paris Saint-Germain’s Presnel Kimpembe.
“Kalidou Koulibaly is one of the world’s elite defenders and we are delighted to be welcoming him to Chelsea,” said new Chelsea co-owner Todd Boehly.
“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.”
The Blues are also keen on Juventus’ Matthijs de Ligt, but he reportedly favours a move to Bayern Munich.
Werner: Koulibaly exactly what Chelsea need
Chelsea forward Timo Werner welcomed Koulibaly’s new arrival at the club, insisting he fits the bill perfectly.
“He is a brilliant defender who will give us strength at the back and is exactly what we need after a lot of defenders left us,” he told Sky Sports.
“He is a very good player from what I saw from him when I played against him with Napoli, so he is just what we need.”
The arrival of Todd Boehly’s consortium as the club’s new owners – and with it the promise of large investment on and off the field – have ensured Chelsea supporters entered this summer riding a wave of optimism.
Even the departure of club record signing Romelu Lukaku on loan to former side Inter Milan – a move that served as an acknowledgment by both the striker and Chelsea that the transfer was a failure – couldn’t dampen the enthusiasm.
Allowing Lukaku to return to Italy was a move that made sense and, while the arrival of Raheem Sterling hasn’t been met with universal approval from the fanbase, signing someone of his pedigree from a direct rival is a clear sign of Boehly’s ambition.
The signing of Sterling, as well as the attempted move for Leeds’ Raphinha – who has now joined Barcelona – also serves as a message to Chelsea’s current crop of forwards that their performances to date have not been up to scratch.
Unsurprisingly, a number of them are rumoured to be available to other clubs as part of what promises to be a busy summer in west London. Hakim Ziyech is a target for AC Milan, Timo Werner and Christian Pulisic have been linked with moves away, and Armando Broja – whose status at Chelsea is uncertain after spending last season on loan at Southampton – is of interest to several Premier League sides.
The clear targeting of wingers by Thomas Tuchel in this transfer window also raises the prospect of the head coach pondering a move away from his preferred 3-4-3 formation. But with a lack of strikers – not to mention centre-backs – how will Chelsea line up next season? How will Sterling fit in? And will Tuchel enter the season with Kai Havertz as his No 9, or push Boehly to make a stunning move for Cristiano Ronaldo?