Fabio Capello has tried to explain why new Chelsea centre-back Kalidou Koulibaly is struggling.
Koulibaly joined Chelsea from Italian club Napoli for £33million this summer and it appeared to be an excellent deal from Thomas Tuchel after he scored in a 2-2 draw against rivals Tottenham on his debut at Stamford Bridge.
But he performed poorly in a 3-0 defeat by Leeds United the following week – after being shown a red card after two cautions – and has been criticized for his performances since returning from suspension.
However, Italian Capello, who has managed England as well as some of Italy’s biggest clubs, believes Koulibaly simply needs to adapt to the pace of the Premier League after spending so long in the slower Serie A.
“I would like to talk about Koulibaly’s difficulties at Chelsea,” Capello told Sky Calcio Club.
“In Naples he did everything by himself. His problems now depend on the speed at which they play in England.
“It’s the same tempo that Udinese use to give Roma fits. That must make us Italians think.”
Koulibaly made 317 appearances for Napoli in eight years, during which time he was voted into Serie A team of the season four times and helped them win the Coppa Italia.
He has also found success on the international stage, capturing 62 caps for Senegal, with whom he won the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations.
Chelsea, on the other hand, have had a mixed start to the season and are sixth after their first six Premier League games.
It’s been a summer of change for the Blues, who have overhauled their defense with Andreas Christensen, Antonio Rudiger and Marcos Alonso leaving the club.
Koulibaly was one of the defenders to replace her, along with Marc Cucurella – who arrived from Brighton in a £60m deal – and Leicester City’s Wesley Fofana, who signed from Chelsea for £75m.
The Blues return to the top flight on Saturday when they meet Fulham in the Champions League at Craven Cottage, following tomorrow’s trip to Dinamo Zagreb.
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