Chelsea’s decision to sign Kalidou Koulibaly from Napoli for £34 million in 2022 raised eyebrows due to the lack of potential resale value for the 31-year-old defender.
However, thanks to the influx of funds from Saudi Pro League clubs, Chelsea managed to secure a decent £20 million fee for the Senegal international.
Despite the transfer fee, the deal resulted in a loss of nearly £15 million within just a year of Koulibaly’s service.
The acquisition of Koulibaly took place during a chaotic 2022 summer transfer window, shortly after Todd Boehly and Clearlake Capital purchased the club from Roman Abramovich.
At the time, Chelsea did not have an established recruitment team, leading to a somewhat haphazard approach to their dealings.
Although Koulibaly is still capable at the age of 31, his value on the market decreases as he enters his 30s.
Therefore, it was an opportune time for Chelsea to sell the defender, especially considering his struggles during his sole season in the Premier League.
While he made 32 appearances for the club, his inconsistency and occasional errors in possession raised concerns about his suitability for Chelsea’s backline.
With the emergence of Levi Colwill, who returned from a successful loan spell at Brighton, Koulibaly would likely have found himself lower in the pecking order had he stayed.
Consequently, both parties mutually agreed that parting ways was the best course of action.
Brighton expressed a strong interest in permanently signing Colwill this summer, but Chelsea has decided to retain the highly-rated 20-year-old defender.
The club views him as a world-class talent and aims to provide him with playing time to aid his development.
Despite having two years left on his contract, Chelsea plans to extend Colwill’s deal.
Koulibaly’s departure, and potentially Trevoh Chalobah’s exit as well, clears the path for Colwill to secure a first-team spot in the upcoming season.
It remains to be seen whether he will partner with Thiago Silva or the impressive Wesley Fofana in the central defense.
Under the new head coach, Mauricio Pochettino, who favors a back-four formation, the competition for the position will be intense, particularly with the arrival of Benoît Badiashile from AS Monaco.
Chelsea’s decision to sell Koulibaly at the right time and retain Colwill demonstrates their commitment to nurturing young talent while maintaining a competitive squad for the future.