Chelsea announced on Saturday that they had finalized the transfer of Senegal defender Kalidou Koulibaly from Napoli on a four-year deal.
Chelsea reportedly spent about 32 million pounds ($38 million) for Koulibaly, who becomes the London club’s second summer acquisition since the Todd Boehly-led takeover, after Raheem Sterling’s arrival on Wednesday.
“I’m really thrilled to be here at Chelsea with this club,” Koulibaly said in a statement. “It’s a major team in the world, and it’s always been my ambition to play in the Premier League.”
“Chelsea came first in 2016 to acquire me, but we didn’t make it.” Now, when they approached me, I agreed because they wanted me to come to the Premier League and play for them.”
Chelsea lost center-backs Antonio Rudiger and Andreas Christensen earlier this season, and Koulibaly’s acquisition will help Thomas Tuchel’s team reduce the gap between Manchester City and Liverpool.
Koulibaly made 317 appearances for Napoli after signing from Belgian club Genk in 2014, winning two titles and establishing himself as one of Italy’s premier defenders.
He has four times been chosen to the Serie A Team of the Year and was voted the league’s finest defender in 2018-19.
During his tenure at Napoli, Koulibaly also spoke out against racism after being abused by audiences on multiple occasions.
Since his senior debut in 2015, the 31-year-old has won 62 appearances for Senegal and led them to victory at the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations.
“From our standpoint, he’s a wonderful addition to the squad,” Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel said, according to the club’s website.
“We have a powerful player with a strong attitude and a lot of experience… I’m delighted that he’s signed and will be joining our squad.”
Chelsea, who finished third last season, are presently on a pre-season tour of the United States. On August 6, they go to Everton to begin the new season.