Under-pressure Chelsea signing delivers true Graham Potter verdict before tackling early exit rumours
Chelsea defender Kalidou Koulibaly has explained what makes Graham Potter a “great manager” despite the pressure both of them have been facing at the club.
Koulibaly joined Chelsea from Napoli in the summer after years of speculation about a Premier League move. Arriving at Stamford Bridge as one of the most highly-rated centre-backs in the world, he has struggled to live up to expectations.
Chelsea have given Koulibaly 14 Premier League starts so far. However, there have already been rumours that they could cut their losses by getting rid of him in the summer.
Furthermore, head coach Potter – who arrived in September to replace Thomas Tuchel – has been in the spotlight amid the club’s continued struggles for form. Chelsea are currently 10th in the Premier League.
TEAMtalk understands that Chelsea still have a long-term vision with Potter at the helm. However, he desperately needs to start picking up better results to get fans back on side.
Potter has chosen Koulibaly from the start of nine Premier League matches to date. In addition, he has earned four Champions League starts and one each in both domestic cups under Potter’s reign.
It remains to be seen how long either of them last at Chelsea. But Koulibaly is confident in Potter’s abilities and leadership skills, for one.
“Graham Potter is very good at communicating with everyone,” the Senegal international told The Sun.
“And he doesn’t care if you cost £100million or £20m, he will treat you in the same way. That’s the mark of a great manager.”
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It seems Koulibaly is happy enough with Potter’s work. As long as the former Brighton boss remains in charge, he will have to hope the feeling is mutual.
In fairness, Chelsea’s defensive record hasn’t been their main concern this season. Still, Koulibaly was dominant at Napoli, so his new club will want to see that version of him.
Koulibaly ‘calm’ over Chelsea future
Reports have included Koulibaly’s name in lists of Chelsea players who could be moved on in the summer. There could be a bigger focus on outgoings after big spends in the past couple of transfer windows.
However, the 31-year-old is still under contract in west London until 2026, with the option of a further year. Therefore, he feels “calm” about his own future.
“It’s not a difficult season but I need time to adapt and I knew that,” he admitted. “When I decided to come here I was well aware that it wouldn’t be easy.
“I have a three-year contract and I am calm. I have time to show everybody who I am.”
Elsewhere in his interview, Koulibaly addressed the fortunes of two other players to have arrived at Chelsea after him.
During the January transfer window, two of their major recruits were Joao Felix (on loan from Atletico Madrid) and Mykhaylo Mudryk (signed permanently from Shakhtar Donetsk).
According to Koulibaly, the former can deliver what Chelsea need, while the latter will also need some patience.
“Felix is known all over the world. He’s a great player, we all know that,” Koulibaly said. “Technically he’s very gifted and brings fluency to our game, which we crave.
“As for Mudryk he’s very quick, technically on a one v one he’s outstanding and can be a big help for us. But he is a player who needs the ball to make the difference and our job is to get it to him.
“Every player joining Chelsea needs time to adapt and Mudryk is no different. We’re not worried because we know he will lead us forward.”
Chelsea are next in action on Saturday when they take on Leeds United in a Premier League match.
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