The former Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez has issued a warning to Chelsea’s new signing Kalidou Koulibaly to improve on his concentration and aerial ability if he wants to succeed in the Premier League.
Kalidou Koulibaly was officially confirmed by Chelsea on Friday following his £35 million move from Napoli.. The 31-year-old Senegalese international established himself as one of the best defenders in the Italian Serie A and Europe.
Kalidou Koulibaly is good with his feet, strong in the air, good carrier of the ball and he is not afraid to join the attack. The Senegalese international may have big shoes to fill in Chelsea’s squad. The blues currently has only two first-team defenders in their squad following the departure of Antonio Rudiger and Andreas Christensen.
The 31-year-old has similar qualities to Antonio Rudiger and may seem as the direct replacement for the German international. Kalidou Koulibaly made 317 appearances for Napoli scoring 14 goals and providing 8 assists.
However, Rafa Benitez who managed the Senegalese international from 2013 to 2015 believes that despite his huge personality and talents, Kalidou Koulibaly may struggle initially to adapt to the Premier League.
What did Rafa Benitez say on Kalidou Koulibaly joining Chelsea in the Premier League?
In an interview with The Athletic, The former Liverpool and Napoli manager said: “He must improve his concentration at times.
“He can be guilty of losing focus and can be overconfident, but he has been hugely influential at Napoli, and people I know and trust have told me that he has been the best center-back in Italy during this time.
“This season will be the Premier League for him and he could be fine for the way that Tuchel wants to play. He has similarities with Rudiger — he is very good at running with the ball, and he’s good with both feet.
“Is he a little bit too nice? We will see what happens at Chelsea. As I said, in Italy he was fine because he was so quick, but I doubt he will be so dominant over here.
“Aerial ability wasn’t his biggest strength but in Italy, that mattered a bit less and he was ok.
“It will be interesting to see how that develops in the Premier League but he was always very keen to learn. He spent time with me and my staff after training sessions to work on his heading and improving his technique.”
Meanwhile, Kalidou Koulibaly has revealed that he talked with former Napoli teammate Jorginho and National teammate Edouard Mendy before joining Chelsea.
He said via the Chelsea official website saying: “When I spoke to my good friends Edou and Jorginho they made my choice easier so I’m really happy to be with you today.
“I want to thank the fans because I saw a lot of them in London and on the plane, everybody was happy for me to be here.
“So I want to thank them and I hope the season will be really good and we will give some good moments to the fans.”
The Senegalese international became Chelsea’s second major signing of the summer following the signing of Raheem Sterling.