Kalidou Koulibaly has explained his decision to join Chelsea, revealing that both head coach Thomas Tuchel and players Jorginho and Edouard Mendy made contact to encourage him to make the move.
The centre-back completed a £34m transfer from Napoli over the weekend and was flown out to Las Vegas to join up with the rest of the Chelsea squad on their pre-season tour of the US.
Koulibaly becomes the Blues’ second major signing of the summer, following the arrival of Raheem Sterling for Man City.
Speaking for the first time about the move to Chelsea‘s official website, the defender revealed that friends within the squad – and the manager – had been in touch with him to convince him to make the switch to Stamford Bridge.
“I spent eight years in Napoli, everyone knew me there and we were happy living in Naples,” he began. “After eight years, I felt it was time for a new challenge and as soon as Chelsea called, I didn’t hesitate. It almost happened before in 2016 but now, in 2022, I’m delighted to be here.”
Koulibaly previously played alongside Jorginho at Napoli, while Mendy is his international teammate with Senegal. Asked about the pair’s influence, Koulibaly replied: “I speak a lot with them both [Jorginho and Mendy]. Jorgi actually texted me and asked if I wanted to come to Chelsea. At the time, I wasn’t sure if they wanted me but of course, I said I would come with pleasure.
“It was the same with Edou, he asked me the question and I told him it was already done and I would see him soon.”
The new Chelsea man also revealed that head coach Tuchel had been in contact, helping to sway him.
“It’s important to me that he called me, he told me what he wants from me and everything he told me was perfect for me to come to Chelsea,” the defender said.
“I’m really happy to work under him. I knew him from his days in Paris at PSG and he called me direct to ask if I wanted to come to Chelsea, and of course the answer was yes. I’m really happy to work with him and to work with his staff. He’s a good man, a very good trainer and I’m looking forward to working with him.”
On the test of making the move to the Premier League, he added: “Everything is a personal challenge in life.
“Moving to London, and the Premier League, from Serie A is a big step but it’s one I wanted to do and to make everyone see that I am the player that they think. I think this is the right moment to come and I’m so happy to be at this big club.”
Koulibaly could make his debut against MLS side Charlotte FC in North Carolina on Wednesday night, although Tuchel has admitted he is reluctant to rush him into action.