(Reuters) – Chelsea have completed the signing of Senegal defender Kalidou Koulibaly from Napoli on a four-year contract, the Premier League club said on Saturday.
British media reported Chelsea paid a fee in the region of 32 million pounds ($38 million) for Koulibaly, who becomes the London side’s second summer signing since the Todd Boehly-led takeover after Raheem Sterling’s arrival on Wednesday.
“I’m very happy to be here with this team at Chelsea,” Koulibaly said in a statement. “It’s a big team in the world and my dream was always to play in the Premier League.
“Chelsea came first to get me in 2016 but we didn’t make it. Now when they came to me I accepted it because they really wanted me to come to the Premier League to play for them.”
Chelsea lost centre backs Antonio Rudiger and Andreas Christensen earlier in the close season, and Koulibaly’s addition will come as a boost for Thomas Tuchel’s side as they look to close the gap on Manchester City and Liverpool.
Koulibaly made 317 appearances for Napoli after joining from Belgian club Genk in 2014, winning two trophies and cementing his place among some of the top defenders in Italy.
He was included in the Serie A Team of the Year four times and named the league’s best defender in 2018-19.
Koulibaly also spoke out against racism during his time at Napoli after he was subjected to abuse by crowds on several occasions.
The 31-year-old has earned 62 caps for Senegal since his senior debut in 2015 and captained them to victory at the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations.
“From our point of view, he’s a perfect addition to the group,” Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel told the club’s website.
“We have a strong player, a strong personality with big experience… I’m very happy with him signing and joining our team.”
Chelsea, who finished third last season, are currently in the United States on a pre-season tour. They kick off the new campaign with a trip to Everton on Aug. 6.
($1 = 0.8437 pounds)
(Reporting by Dhruv Munjal in Bengaluru, Additional reporting by Hritika Sharma in Hyderabad; Editing by Peter Rutherford and Hugh Lawson)