Chelsea have signed Napoli defender Kalidou Kolibaly for £34million to strengthen their backline

How does Kalidou Kolibaly compare to Chelsea stars and Big Six stalwarts?

It’s no surprise that Chelsea were looking to sign a new defender this summer, given the lack of options available for Thomas Tuchel. As was the norm in Todd Boehly’s early days, they moved quickly to recruit.

The Stamford Bridge club have completed a transfer for Napoli stalwart Kalidou Kolibaly, with the deal worth £34million.

Kolibaly has an excellent reputation and has been linked with other top clubs in England in the past, with Chelsea fans now wondering what he will bring.

Chelsea have signed Napoli defender Kalidou Kolibaly for £34million to strengthen their backline

His stats from last season show that Chelsea have landed a formidable presence both on the ground and in the air – and they may not do so when it comes to defensive reinforcements either.

After Nathan Ake decided to stay at Manchester City, Chelsea are reportedly rekindling their interest in Sevilla star Jules Kounde.

Signing a handful of new faces at the back has been key for the Blues, given Antonio Rudiger and Andreas Christensen have already left on free transfers.

Tuchel was left out after their exits, although his ranks will be bolstered soon enough.

The centre-back played in Italy last season, and Sportsmail took a look at his stats

The centre-back played in Italy last season, and sports mail took a look at his stats

Cesar Azpilicueta, set to join Barcelona in a £7million transfer, has been told he cannot leave Stamford Bridge until defensive reinforcements are signed. If he were to leave, Chelsea would enter the new season with a very different defence.

Kolibaly, alongside seasoned veteran Thiago Silva, will undoubtedly be at the heart of this project. He was ever present for Napoli last season when fit and has far more experience than those who would look to rival his position.

First, we’ll take a look at how his numbers compare to the club’s current options – namely Silva, Trevoh Chalobah and Malang Sarr. These last two players gained less playing time last year, so it should be kept in mind that this will affect the results.

In terms of appearances, Kolibaly has made 34 in all competitions, less than Silva’s 48 but more than Chalobah and Sarr’s 30 and 21 respectively. Curiously, he also started each of those matches, underlining his importance to the Serie A side.

COMPETITION IN CHELSEA
All club competitions 21/22 Koulibaly silva Chalobah Sar
Appearances 34 48 30 21
Departures 34 41 24 16
Minutes 3036 3980 2247 1519
Goals conceded 32 36 13 16
Minutes per goal conceded 94.9 110.6 172.8 94.9
clean sheets 1 2 18 1 2 6
Tackles 53 46 52 26
Tackle success (%) 56.6 69.6 71.2 57.7
Aerial duels won 58 96 58 36
Aerial Success (%) 53 72 59 71
Blocks 29 38 11 9
comments 33 68 39 30
Clearances 106 131 83 40
Dribbled by opponent 17 13 1 2 1 2
pass 2088 3702 1868 1348
Passing Accuracy (%) 87 92.7 89.8 88.7
Statistics provided by Opta

From the games he has featured in, Napoli have conceded 32 goals, four less than the 36 dispatched by Chelsea with Silva at his side. Again, the difference in games played comes into play, but the fact that Koulibaly has scored less than one goal in every game is notable.

Chalobah and Sarr conceded 13 and 16, perhaps because of their limited minutes.

In tackles, Koulibaly leads with 53. Behind him are Chalobah with 52, Silva with 46 and Sarr with 26. Silva’s 69.6 and Chalobah’s 71.2.

As noted above, the Blues newcomer is also strong in the air and is no stranger to throwing himself into blocks and interceptions. He was, however, beaten in both areas by Silva – whose numbers last season were outstanding.

Another vital aspect of the style of play under Tuchel is assurance on the ball and precise decision-making. This, quite simply, revolves around when a player opts for a shorter option to build from the back, or instead decides to smash it down the field.

Thiago Silva, despite his advanced age, improved his future teammate in several metrics

Thiago Silva, despite his advanced age, improved his future teammate in several metrics

Kolibaly registered 106 clearances last season, Silva registering 131. For assists, the former made 2088, a figure well below the latter’s 3702. As a disclaimer, this metric is heavily dictated by how each of the teams uses the ball.

Finally, for passing accuracy, Kolibaly’s percentage is 87, while Silva’s is 92.7. Chalobah and Sarr’s totals are 89.8 and 88.7, making it clear that the defender set to don the club’s famous shirt will need to stay calm.

Summarizing for the first table, the results show that Kolibaly is ready to equip himself well against the rigors of the Premier League, although Silva often overtakes him.

Practically, for more context, sports mail also compared Koulibaly to the best of others; the peerless defenders of other Big Six clubs in the top flight.

Ruben Dias is one of the best defenders in the Premier League and will face Kolibaly

Ruben Dias is one of the best defenders in the Premier League and will face Kolibaly

For this we have selected Virgil van Dijk and Joel Matip from Liverpool, Ruben Dias and Aymeric Laporte from Manchester City, Gabriel Magalhaes from Arsenal, Cristian Romero from Tottenham and Harry Maguire and Raphael Varane from Manchester United.

Again, the number of minutes played by each of the above names must be taken into consideration, with Van Dijk in particular still around for his club last season.

It also skews the measurement of minutes per goal conceded, but there are still plenty of notable findings. Kolibaly, as explained above, has an average of 94.9 minutes between goals, an average over an entire match, and ranks very well in the table below.

He’s better by Van Dijk’s 140 minutes, while Laporte (113), Matip (123.5) and Dias (99.7) are also at the top of his efforts. However, Manchester City and Liverpool tend to attack more than they defend, while Napoli generally came under more pressure last year.

KOULIBALY VS BEST OF THE BIG SIX
All club competitions 21/22 Koulibaly Van Dijk The door Matip Slides Magalhaes Maguire Romero Varana
Appearances 34 51 44 43 40 38 37 30 29
Departures 34 51 43 42 37 37 35 29 26
Minutes 3036 4620 3757 3706 3291 3265 3168 2552 2362
Goals conceded 32 33 33 30 33 39 50 33 29
Minutes per goal conceded 94.9 140 113.8 123.5 99.7 83.7 63.4 77.3 81.4
clean sheets 1 2 28 17 19 13 13 seven seven 6
Tackles 53 24 48 59 38 52 44 81 33
Tackle success (%) 56.6 58.3 52.1 72.9 57.9 61.5 63.6 59.3 63.6
Aerial duels won 58 185 69 140 61 57 94 61 74
Aerial Success (%) 53 78 63 71 56 58 72 63 76
Blocks 29 17 1 2 17 20 27 31 24 13
comments 33 49 31 51 31 15th 42 54 28
Clearances 106 161 86 115 86 117 114 90 98
Dribbled by opponent 17 5 8 13 ten 11 1 2 14 13
pass 2088 4024 3743 3095 2959 2124 2028 1847 1538
Passing Accuracy (%) 87 89.6 94.5 88.8 93 89.2 86.6 88 88.2
Statistics provided by Opta

In the clean sheet column, Kolibaly’s 12 is again in the middle of the road. Van Dijk has 28, while Matip has 19, Laporte 17 and Dias 13 put them ahead of him. Chelsea’s new man comfortably beats the other four contenders, however.

Kolibaly’s 53 tackles last season are the second highest in the table, behind the 59 made by the combative Matip. Again, this could be affected by the way Napoli presented their stand, but it’s an achievement that Tuchel will certainly please.

It’s worth pointing out, however, that Kolibaly’s tackle success rate of 56.6% is the second-lowest – with everyone but Laporte having improved their figure last year.

For aerial duels won, while Kolibaly’s tally isn’t one his new manager makes fun of, his numbers are beaten by several of his top-flight rivals. Van Dijk won 185 through the air and Matip finished with 140, both of these figures exceeding 58.

Virgil van Dijk posts best numbers of last year, but Koulibaly's stats are impressive

Virgil van Dijk posts best numbers of last year, but Koulibaly’s stats are impressive

An analysis of blocks and interception columns shows that in both areas Kolibaly has a lot to bring to his new team. He ranks second for the first category and fourth for the second – again indicating that he has a full game in his arsenal.

One area for improvement is an opponent’s dribbling. It happened to Koulibaly 17 times last season, around once every two games, and, while it doesn’t sound poor, other Premier League players have resisted more firmly.

By comparison, Van Dijk has only been dribbled past five times, with the second highest amount, behind Kolibaly, coming from Romero’s 13. Maguire, who has been widely maligned by United supporters for his mobility, has been cheated on 12 times.

Finally, there are no major hassles in serving passers-by. As explained above, Kolibaly has demonstrated that he is adept at possession, which is necessary in the modern era of top flight, and his numbers sit well alongside his peers.

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