Todd Boehly reveals reason why Chelsea favourite flopped at Stamford Bridge – ‘I have to run while I think’

Will Ford
Todd Boehly has spent over £1bn since taking over at Chelsea.

Todd Boehly has explained why one of his first signings as Chelsea owner flopped at Stamford Bridge.

Boehly and Clearlake Capital have spent over £1bn in two years as owners of the Blues, with much of that money spent on young players with great potential.

But their transfer policy has changed in their time at the club, with money initially spent to bring older players like Raheem Sterling and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to the club.

Kalidou Koulibaly was another experienced head brought in during Boehly’s first transfer window in charge, signed from Napoli to replace Real Madrid-bound Antonio Rudiger.

Chelsea cashed in on Koulibaly after the Senegal international made just 23 Premier League appearances for the club, selling him to Saudi Arabia for £20m – £13m less than they had signed him for the summer before.

‘I have to run while I think’

And Boehly, talking at a Sportico conference in Los Angeles on Wednesday, detailed why Koulibaly – whom he had a “great relationship with” – struggled in the Premier League.

Boehly said: “There’s no bigger sport in the world. When you think about just the size and scale of European football, it’s just mind-numbing and there’s no better league in the world in the Premier League. If you look at how these guys play, the speed with which they play the game.

“One of my players who I had a great relationship with is Kalidou Koulibaly. Koulibaly came over from Serie A (where he played for Napoli) and he told me one time, ‘In Serie A, I get to think and then run but in the Premier League, I have to run while I think, and I’m still adjusting to that’.”

Chelsea have endured a difficult season under Mauricio Pochettino, with the lack of experience in the squad – as well as the extraordinary number of injures – a real problem in his debut campaign in charge.

UNIQUE TO F365: Mediawatch | Mailbox | Winners & Losers | Bespoke Prem tables

‘Exactly the way we drew it up’

But Boehly is heartened by the Blues’ recent form, adding: “We’ve seen the last two and a half games, at least in the second half at Aston Villa and Tottenham and West Ham where we played just beautiful football.

“It was so fluid, it was exactly the way we drew it up, when we came out of the back, built up and we moved up the pitch, very organised and the number of shots we had on board. In those two and a half games, you could really start to see what we were working on coming together.

“Even the commentary has changed over the last two and a half games. I’ve never seen anything change so quickly.”

READ MORE: Underwhelming contenders to replace Mauricio Pochettino at Chelsea headed by struggling Brighton boss

Chelsea are now seventh in the Premier League and are in the hunt for European football next season, with three games to go in this campaign, and Pochettino called for an end to the “stupid rumours” about his future at the club ahead of the 5-0 thrashing of West Ham.

“I wanted to say that it is enough with this type of rumours, that if I have one year more [under] contract here and no-one says nothing [to me], [I] suppose I’m going to be here,” Pochettino said last week.

“Only if then, the season finishes and someone says to me ‘ciao’… Because we don’t know at the moment. I suppose that I have one more year contract and that I am going to be here. Enough about the stupid rumours.

“You need to ask the club if they want me to keep going or not, not to write things that have no sense.”

READ MORE: Cole Palmer among first official Player of the Season award winners