Premier League

Chelsea’s Koulibaly persuit

Earlier this week, the Napoli chairman revealed that his club had turned down an offer in excess of £50 million for their star centre-back Kalidou Koulibaly, later revealing the exact figure was $58 million. He also revealed that this was two days before the transfer deadline day, just before the 25-year-old Senegalese centre-back signed a new contract with the club.

The failed pursuit of Kalidou Koulibaly signals that deadline day signing David Luiz wasn’t a first choice target for the Blues and was arguably a panic buy. Chelsea’s defensive issue’s last season have carried over to this season; Gary Cahill is out of form, Kurt Zouma is still injured and John Terry is a shadow of the player he was, understandably due to his age and the way the modern game is now played. Koulibaly would have been a good signing as he is a strong, pacey defender who, in the thirty-three games he played last season, marshalled Napoli so well that they only conceded 32 goals and qualified for the Champions League.

Koulibaly in action for Napoli.

Chelsea always had one of, if the not the, best defences in the league under former manager Jose Mourinho, bar the season just gone, and many thought with Antonio Conté as the new manager Chelsea would revert to the 3-5-2 system that he favoured at Juventus and Italy. It is a style of play which utilises the wingers and the strikers in a more direct style. However, Conté seems to be sticking to a 4-2-3-1 system, with N’Golo Kanté and Nemanja Matic bossing the midfield and Diego Costa up front as a sole striker. It was originally perceived that Luiz was brought in so that Chelsea could revert to a three at the back system, and it is debated if it is the same reason they were in for Koulibaly, but so far they have stuck with the 4-2-3-1. Chelsea started off their season well, winning their first three games, before an unfortunate draw Swansea and then a loss to rivals Liverpool 2-1 and Arsenal 3-0, highlighting their defensive issues. The 2015 Champions have kept just two clean sheets this season, and it is easy to see why they were interested in Koulibaly as his pace, positional sense and ability to read the game would help Chelsea tremendously given that their best defender is clearly an injured and out of form John Terry. Apart from Zouma, there is no obvious replacement for Terry in the Chelsea squad for when he is injured, as Cahill has been shown up a few times this season and David Luiz is can often be a liability at the back.

Was David Luiz a panic buy after failing to sign Koulibaly?

Koulibaly, on the other hand, has all the attributes to become a world-class defender and playing alongside Terry would only help the Senegal international develop his game. It’s no secret that in 2015 Chelsea went in for now-Manchester City defender John Stones, and now it seems that the primary target in the summer was Koulibaly. However, they ended up with David Luiz and it would be no surprise if Chelsea went in again for the centre-back next Summer, especially if Chelsea’s title challenge falls apart or if they fail to make the top four!

This article was written by Ben Tipper. Twitter – @bentippermcfc

Featured Image Credit: Vespa125125CFC



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