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Koulibaly begins Chelsea exodus to Saudi Pro League

LONDON (AFP) – Senegal captain Kalidou Koulibaly became the latest star name to head to Saudi Arabia on Sunday as he joined Al-Hilal from Chelsea, the Premier League club confirmed.

Koulibaly joined the Blues just last year from Napoli for a reported GBP33 million (USD42 million).

However, the 32-year-old struggled in the Premier League as Chelsea finished 12th – their lowest league finish since 1994.

“Kalidou Koulibaly has left Chelsea after completing a permanent transfer to Saudi Professional League side Al-Hilal,” Chelsea said in a statement.

“We would like to thank Kalidou for his contributions on and off the pitch during his time at Stamford Bridge and wish him well for the next stage of his career.”

Backed by the nation’s sovereign wealth fund, the Saudi Pro League is luring big names from the major European leagues with the promise of huge salaries.

Cristiano Ronaldo’s move to Al Nassr in January started the trend.

His former Real Madrid teammate Karim Benzema and French World Cup winner N’Golo Kante of Chelsea have recently joined Al-Ittihad.

Chelsea could be set to further profit from the Saudi investment.

Kalidou Koulibaly. PHOTO: AFP