William Gallas has tipped Kalidou Koulibaly to overcome the initial shock of playing in the Premier League and become a fantastic Chelsea signing.
The Senegal centre-back has had links with a move to the English top flight for several seasons. But after reported interest from Liverpool, Manchester United and others, it is Chelsea who have plucked him from Napoli.
The £34million fee comes as a significant climbdown from the Serie A side’s earlier valuations.
However, former Blues and Arsenal centre-back Gallas has insisted that Koulibaly has not lost his reputation.
He added that the 31-year-old may initially struggle with the intensity of the Premier League but backed him to settle.
“He’s strong and we’ve been waiting for him to come to the Premier League for such a long time – it was a shame that he couldn’t come earlier!” Gallas told the Daily Mirror.
“I think that the fans will love him. They will love him because in England, we like this type of defender: strong, quick and making tackles.
“He talks a lot and he has the hunger to fight. He is a fighter. After one or two tackles, I’m telling you, they will have a song for him at Stamford Bridge. It is very difficult to pass him. He is very powerful.
“I think he will suit the Premier League really well. I think he may be a little bit surprised by the intensity of the game in his first matches. He will have to be careful in his first few matches.”
Gallas warns Koulibaly of Chelsea experience
Gallas added that the likes of Thiago Silva should help Koulibaly through his first few games, after letting the intensity of the top flight get on top of him after he moved to Chelsea.
“I had the same experience when I arrived from Marseille,” the Frenchman said. “I will always remember making my debut playing next to Marcel Desailly and he said: ‘William, be careful here. It is not like in France. You will have to run and chase a striker, not once, or twice, but probably ten times in a game.’
“I said to him: ‘Marcel, it will be OK. Don’t worry. Oh my god!’ After 10 minutes I was tired! It was like I had been hit by a train.
“I said: ‘Marcel, I can’t play like this for 90 minutes!’ He looked at me and smiled and said: “I told you! You have to!”
Tuchel needs more defensive recruits
While Koulibaly is a strong addition for Chelsea who may soon prove his worth in the Premier League, boss Thomas Tuchel is not certain at all that Chelsea – as it stands – can compete.
He said exactly that after a 4-0 pre-season hammering by Arsenal in July.
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The result preceded Koulibaly’s arrival but was a surefire sign that things have to improve before the season starts.
Chelsea are moving towards the signing of Brighton left-back Marc Cucurella. However, they are also after centre-backs such as RB Leipzig’s Josko Gvardiol.