Charlotte FC stuns Chelsea with victory in PKs as world sees city’s soccer growth

Charlotte FC stuns Chelsea with victory in PKs as world sees city’s soccer growth

After a busy few months on and off the pitch, Chelsea were under pressure to strengthen the heart of their defense this summer, losing two centre-backs to Andreas Christensen and Antonio Rudiger in free agency.

In an era when traditional top European clubs are almost exclusively looking for value and potential from new arrivals, a €40m transfer fee for a 31-year-old in the final year of his contract may seem somewhat extravagant.

Koulibaly is hardly a "moneyball" signing from a pure transfer market standpoint, especially as the Senegal international was handed a four-year deal with the option to extend until the end of the 2026–27 season.

The most important aspect of Koulibaly's game is the authority he brings to the pitch.  Often hailed by coaches and managers in the age of analytics – yet still under-appreciated by coaches and managers – the concept of “presence” can be ambiguous and controversial to some.

Still, for those who care about the way a player conducts himself on the pitch, the defender displays rare qualities when it comes to both style and confidence.

He plays with his head up, is calm in possession, dominates his opponents and plays with a certain "aura"—another restricted term in many analytics departments—that isn't necessary for modern-day defenders.

Yet for his complete calmness, or when dealing with pressure situations, the new Chelsea centre-back still demonstrates an aggressive style of defense.

Perhaps more importantly, the 31-year-old is excellent at one-versus-one defense and rarely has to rely on a teammate to take him out hard.