When Kalidou Koulibaly joined Chelsea this summer, it was the fulfillment of a destiny some six years in the making, since we were first linked with the former Napoli center back. A standout in the Serie A, his arrival was seen as a direct replacement, if not upgrade, on Antonio Rüdiger, who had left for Real Madrid.
And our first glimpses of Koulibaly in Chelsea shirt — the No.26 shirt! — were certainly promising: he was one of the few players to emerge with any credit from preseason. But his performances over the first month of the season proper have not quite lived up to that promise, and while that’s not necessarily all on him, and he’s not been the only player who’s flattered to deceive, he’s been one of the few players who have yet to receive any minutes from new head coach Graham Potter.
Given that K2 was the player chosen for pre-match media duties ahead of tomorrow’s Champions League group stage match against AC Milan, a team he’s faced many times in his career, that trend’s unlikely to continue, though Potter himself has urged patience with the 31-year-old defender.
“Firstly, I’ve been really impressed with him. As a person, he is honest and understands his situation in terms of having to wait a bit to play, which every player will say they are not so happy with. Then it’s how you respond and his response has been fantastic. He has been very hard working and honest, has trained very well.
“He has come from a club and country that he was very familiar with and comfortable with and making the step into the Premier League is not so easy. Things have happened in terms of changes at the club so it’s not been the perfect situation for him. But he is a top player and top persona and with that character, he will play an important role for us that is for sure.”
-Graham Potter; source: Football.London
Koulibaly himself is feeling settled, at least off the pitch...
“I knew that after eight years, my time at Napoli was over. When one of the best clubs in the world calls, you can’t wait. I did all I could to join Chelsea.”
“I have settled in well, just like my family. I arrived at the right time, along with players who have won many trophies. It’s up to me to prove that the team can always count on me. For now, I am really happy and I hope to continue.”
-Kalidou Koulibaly; source: Carré via Daily Mail
...while he’s continuing to work hard and looking to step up when called upon.
“It’s true I haven’t played yet with the new manager but I’m easy, I know my time will come. We have a lot of games and I will give everything in training. I am a big worker and when I don’t play, I like to put all my energy into my work. At the moment, I am working good and trying to give my best in training to show him he can use me on the pitch and play my first game for him.
“I think today the most important thing is that Chelsea have to win the game tomorrow to get the three points because I know we didn’t start well in the Champions League with a defeat and draw. So we absolutely have to win this game tomorrow and we prepare everything to win this game and I hope we will do it. That is the most important thing.”
“[...] I know that it’s a normal process. So I have to keep on working, stay passionate and my time will come. I am not worried about anything, I just want Chelsea to win the games as we did at the weekend. We showed a lot of good things this weekend and I am really happy for the team and everybody because we have a good team spirit and it’s difficult when you change a manager. But you see this team is going up and up and I hope that tomorrow we will show a lot of good things to win the game.”
-Kalidou Koulibaly; source: Football.London
That’s the spirit!