Rafa Benitez reveals two major concerns over Chelsea signing Koulibaly

Former Chelsea manager Rafa Benitez believes Kalidou Koulibaly could struggle to adapt to the rigours of the Premier League after his move from Napoli.

The 31-year-old has spent eight years in Serie A, carving out a reputation as one of the most dominant defenders in world football, but believes the time is right to test himself in England.

The Blues have been desperate for central defensive reinforcements after the high-profile departures of Rudiger and Christensen.

Koulibaly is likely to replace Rudiger at the heart of Tuchel’s defensive unit, but Benitez, who managed the player at Napoli, fears the player’s adaptation process is unlikely to be a smooth one.

He told The Athletic: ‘He must improve his concentration at times. ‘He can be guilty of losing focus and can be overconfident, but he has been hugely influential at Napoli and people I know and trust have told me that he has been the best centre-back in Italy during this time.

‘This season will be the Premier League for him and he could be fine for the way that Tuchel wants to play. He has similarities with Rudiger — he is very good at running with the ball, he’s good with both feet.

‘Is he a little bit too nice? We will see what happens at Chelsea. As I said, in Italy he was fine because he was so quick, but I doubt he will be so dominant over here.

‘Aerial ability wasn’t his biggest strength but in Italy that mattered a bit less and he was ok.

‘It will be interesting to see how that develops in the Premier League but he was always very keen to learn. He spent time with me and my staff after training sessions to work on his heading and improving his technique.’

Koulibaly will benefit from the presence of two familiar faces at Stamford Bridge in former Napoli teammate Jorginho and his compatriot Edouard Mendy, both of who he consulted before joining Chelsea.

‘When I spoke to my good friends Edou and Jorginho they made my choice easier so I’m really happy to be with you today,’ he said.

‘I want to thank the fans because I saw a lot of them in London and on the plane everybody was happy for me to be here. ‘So I want to thank them and I hope the season will be really good and we will give some good moments to the fans.’

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