Like Karim Benzema and N'Golo Kanté, Kalidou Koulibaly is moving to Saudi Arabia. A choice that has been carefully considered. And the new Al Hilal player intends to flourish in this Gulf country.
Kalidou Koulibaly talks about his move to Al Hilal
After arriving at Chelsea last summer, Kalidou Koulibaly had no idea he would be leaving the Premier League a year later. The Senegalese defender's season has been mixed, and he has chosen Saudi Arabia as his destination. He signed a three-year contract with Al Hilal. Before committing himself to the Saudi club, the former Napoli player felt it necessary to consult his entourage.
Koulibaly confides: "I asked my friends, relatives and parents for advice. When I spoke to them about it, they said yes straight away. After that, it was up to me to make the choice and I was waiting for some answers from Chelsea.
The Senegal international added: "They weren't the ones I was waiting for, so I decided to continue my career here at Al Hilal. It will give me playing time and allow me to prepare for the African Cup, but it will also allow the club to grow and win trophies. I didn't come here as an early retiree. I came here to try and win the league, the Asian Champions League and why not make a good showing at the Club World Cup.
"I'm a Muslim, and I've come to a country that's ideal for me and my family".
An indispensable player in the Senegal national team, Koulibaly also had a word to say to his coach, Aliou Cissé. "When I heard that the club was interested in me, I spoke directly to the coach because the national team is very important to me. I didn't come here on 'holiday', but I'm here to be competitive for the national team too. I already have to perform well at club level because the club deserves respect too. Now, with the national team, I know that there will be no special treatment. If I perform well, he (Aliou Cissé) will select me; if I don't perform as well as others who play in Europe, he'll select them. So there's no problem with that," he says.
After careful consideration, Kalidou Koulibaly has decided to join Al Hilal. But before doing so, he made sure he knew everything there was to know about the club. "I didn't know too much about the club, but when a club is interested in me, I try to find out about it and see all the good players who have played there. And I saw that Bafétimbi Gomis had also won with this club (...) I asked for the trophies they had won and I went to see them in the trophy room when I came here. I like to immerse myself and I try to immerse myself in the culture of Saudi Arabia. And I love the fact that it's a very family-oriented club, unlike other clubs where the players are on top. That's one of the criteria for my choices. He adds. "I was given an extraordinary welcome. I'm a Muslim, and I've come to a country that's ideal for me and my family," he concludes.