Chelsea has officially announced the departure of defender Kalidou Koulibaly, who has joined Saudi Arabian side Al-Hilal on a permanent deal this summer.
Koulibaly is just one of several stars from Stamford Bridge who will be leaving for the Saudi Pro League, with N’Golo Kante having already made a free transfer to Al-Ittihad.
Koulibaly was one of the early signings made during the Boehly-Clearlake era, having arrived at Chelsea from Napoli a year ago to strengthen the defensive line.
Although the seasoned defender was expected to fill the void left by Antonio Rudiger and Andreas Christensen, he fell short of meeting those expectations.
Struggling to adapt to the demands of the Premier League, Koulibaly found it challenging to transition after being linked with a move to England for several years.
In the middle of the season, he represented Senegal in the World Cup held in Qatar, where he led the team to a last-16 finish before being eliminated by England.
Upon his return to Stamford Bridge, Koulibaly found himself starting sporadically as the arrival of Benoit Badiashile increased competition for places in the backline.
Ultimately, the 32-year-old center-back concluded the season with 32 appearances for Chelsea. Unfortunately, the move did not pan out as both parties had hoped.
As part of their efforts to streamline the squad during the summer transfer window, Chelsea decided to transfer Koulibaly away, coinciding with Mauricio Pochettino taking charge.
The transfer fee for the move to Al-Hilal is estimated to be around £20 million.
In an official statement, the Blues expressed their gratitude to Koulibaly, acknowledging his contributions both on and off the pitch during his time at Stamford Bridge.
They also extended their well wishes for his future endeavors.
Additional deals are expected to shape Chelsea’s squad under Pochettino, as Hakim Ziyech and Edouard Mendy are also rumored to be making moves to the Saudi Pro League.
The west London club is actively working on restructuring its team as they prepare for the upcoming season.