If reports in the British press are to be believed, Chelsea are reportedly on the verge of a £38million deal for Napoli centre back Kalidou Koulibaly.
The defender is a relatively unknown name in England, and despite the fact that a number of Premier Clubs have been linked with his signature this summer; many fans are unaware of Koulibaly’s background and how good he actually is.
In truth, Koulibaly possesses a number of qualities that make him a perfect fit at Chelsea and in the Premier League.
With the move seemingly imminent, Chelsea fans need to know who their potential new centre back actually is.
With that, here are FIVE things Chelsea fans need to know about Kalidou Koulibaly and his seemingly impending transfer
Kalidou Koulibaly is a 25-year-old central defender, born to parents from Senegal. He grew up in France, where at 18 he was signed by Metz.
He went on to play for Racing Genk, whom have a relationship with Chelsea through previous signings, and now plys his trade in Italy with Napoli.
He was set to be sold to a low level Premier League side before having his breakout year last season under new boss Maurizio Sarri.
He now finds himself a key member of the Napoli first team and defence, and became a crucial part of a side that finished second in Serie A last season.
His performances particularly towards the tail end of the year has led to a wealth of interest from sides across Europe, including Chelsea.
Kalidou Koulibaly’s most obvious quality is easy for all to see; he stands at a towering 6ft 5in – dwarfing the majority of the attackers he plays against.
He also possesses a fair bit of pace, which will be particularly useful at Chelsea given the lack of speed currently available in the Chelsea defence.
He is a strong, physical defender, making him a perfect fit in the Premier League, and a perfect replacement for John Terry as the Chelsea captain transitions from a regular starting role with The Blues.
Significantly, Koulibaly is at home on the left hand side of the centre, a rare commodity in English football with John Terry one of the few remaining natural left sided centre backs in England.
As mentioned, strength and pace make up a lot of what makes his play style.
He utilises every bit of his towering frame, and is an expert in the air particularly from set pieces.
His frame doesn’t limit his movement however, with the defender equally adept at playing with the ball at his feet or utilising his pace chasing rampaging attackers.
Whilst he doesn’t always look comfortable on the ball, he is typically reliable when called upon.
He is an aggressive player, which fits the Premier League well; though Conte will have to be careful as the defender is prone to a yellow card as a result of particularly rough challenges.
The obvious hole that Koulibaly will fill is in the middle of the defence; with Chelsea looking particularly weak in that regard.
Gary Cahill is not in particularly great form, and John Terry is coming to the end of his playing days. Kurt Zouma looks set to return from injury soon, but it is unconfirmed as to when that day will come.
Long term, you would imagine that Koulibaly and Zouma will become the ideal central pairing, with the physical style of both players a perfect complement to the Premier League.
At just 25 years old, Koulibaly is still developing and will be able to learn a lot from his future captain in John Terry. His age also means that his best years are still ahead of him, with the potential deal likely providing Chelsea with a defender for the years to come.
Koulibaly will likely come in and immediately become the club’s first choice central defender.
Now, it is important to note that any transfer talk at this point is purely speculation. The deal has not been confirmed by either side, and nor does confirmation look likely at any point in the near future.
Sky Sports are generally reliable with their information, and what they have reported is all that we know at this stage.
According to them, Chelsea are very interested in the deal, and have come in with a bid of £38 million – after reports that a lower bid was previously rejected by Napoli.
We also know that Koulibaly himself is very keen for a move away from the club, after reportedly becoming unhappy at Napoli.
Napoli will likely not want to hold on to an unhappy player, so the deal does make sense for all parties involved.
Should the bid be accepted, which you would expect to be the case; expect the deal to be finalised over the next week or so and to be confirmed thereafter.