As a previous team-mate for four years of our newest signing, there are few better to offer an opinion on Kalidou Koulibaly than his old Napoli colleague Jorginho…
The pair both made the switch to Naples in 2014, Jorginho six months prior to Koulibaly’s arrival from Genk, and played key roles as the team pushed for silverware on multiple fronts, including in the Serie A title race for the first time in a generation.
Their centre-back to deep-lying central midfielder relationship developed naturally, as did their friendship off the field, which has only strengthened since Jorginho’s switch to Stamford Bridge four summers ago.
It is no surprise then to hear how delighted the 30-year-old is now that the transfer has been completed.
‘I am so, so happy he’s here,’ the midfielder told us.
‘As a player, he’s a brilliant defender - fast, strong and he has so much quality on the ball with both feet. He’s also a real leader.’
Jorginho is not the only face in the Chelsea dressing room familiar to Koulibaly, with his Senegal international team-mate Edouard Mendy having already predicted that Blues fans will like what they see from the Lions of Teranga captain.
Those existing relationships will clearly help the defender’s swift transition into the group, though Jorginho believes Koulibaly has a likeability that will quickly endear him in the dressing room.
‘We’ve stayed in contact since I left Napoli,’ he continued. ‘He speaks better English already than I do so that will be good for him to help settle in!
‘It’s going to be really easy for him because of the person he is. Of course we will help him to make it maybe a bit easier for him to get involved with the team-mates and everything, but even if he didn’t know us it would be easy for him because he’s such a good guy.’
An outstanding on-field performer and admired away from the pitch in equal measure, it is no surprise that Kouliably has been a target for some time.
As he revealed upon signing his contract with the club, the initial interest started in 2016 and Jorginho was always aware there was a possibility of a welcome reunion with his old mate.
‘We spoke a lot about it,’ he added. ‘Even before I came here Chelsea were interested in him and finally now it’s happening so it’s really good.’
Koulibaly has linked up with his new team-mates on tour in the USA and is expected to take part in team training for the first time on Monday in Orlando.