John Terry suspected Kalidou Koulibaly was a prank caller and hung up on Chelsea's new centre-back when the Senegalese star asked to take his old shirt number.

Koulibaly had the 26 shirt at Napoli and was eager to retain it at Chelsea, but decided he should check that was OK with Terry.

No first-team player at Chelsea has worn 26 since Terry departed at the end of the 2016-17 season, so it was a courtesy call that Koulibaly considered important.

Terry eventually happily gave his blessing and urged the new recruit to bring in more trophies, yet Koulibaly revealed that initially the former Blues and England captain thought he had a rogue caller on the line.

The 31-year-old said: "I was nervous a bit because I was waiting to sign my contract in Chelsea. It happened the day before. I was happy, and the second thing is I wanted to know which number was free.

"Speaking with the team manager, he told me some numbers, and he didn't tell me the 26. I said that John left it in 2017 and nobody took it from this time. So I was asking myself if it was retired or maybe nobody wanted to take it."

Koulibaly turned to a former Napoli and Chelsea hero to get hold of Terry.

"I asked Gianfranco Zola, who I know very well, about the club, about the structure and the supporters, and I asked him for John's number because I wanted to ask for the jersey," Koulibaly said.

"I called him and at the beginning he didn't believe that it was me, he believed it was a joke. He put down the phone and called the team manager to ask if it was really me.

"I know that it's a very important number for him, and it's very important for me because I took it to Napoli and I wanted to keep it for here at Chelsea.

"When he told me 'yes', I was really happy because I know what he did for the club and the supporters and the city here, and I knew it was important to ask him. He gave me his answer and I was happy.

"I wanted to tell people I had asked him before, because I didn't want to be disrespectful to a legend of the club."

Chelsea begin their season on Saturday at Everton, who are bossed by another Stamford Bridge great in Frank Lampard, as the Premier League gets under way.

Koulibaly, speaking in a news conference on Wednesday, said former Blues coach Antonio Conte had tried to sign him for Chelsea in 2015, but this time "the stars were in a good line".

"This team is a fantastic team of winners, of big stuff. I want to give them everything on the pitch," Koulibaly said. "I'm 31 with a good club in a good city. I hope I will stay here a long time."

He said it was important not to expect him to directly match up to Antonio Rudiger, who moved on to Real Madrid at the end of last season.

Comparisons are bound to be made, given he will be taking Rudiger's spot in central defence, but Koulibaly said: "I'm Koulibaly. I'm not Rudiger. I don't have the same skills, I don't play like him. I have another style.

"I will try to do my best and try to give solidity to the team. I know it will be difficult because I come from Italy and Premier League football is difficult. But I'm very motivated and want to show everybody Chelsea made a good choice with me."

Rio Ferdinand accused former England team-mate John Terry of having a "fragile ego" after he took exception to a seemingly innocuous list of all-time greatest Premier League centre-backs.

Manchester United great Ferdinand listed himself first and Chelsea legend Terry fifth during an interview with Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk.

Ferdinand had his former United centre-back partner Nemanja Vidic second, with both Van Dijk and Jaap Stam ahead of Terry.

The BT Sport pundit said of Terry: "In terms of his longevity at that club, what they won, body on the line, a much better footballer than people give him credit for, could play off his left and right foot."

Terry was seemingly unimpressed by Ferdinand's assessment, though, and took to Instagram to showcase his list of achievements and writing: "Opinions are great but stats don't lie…"

The spat was then taken to Twitter, with Ferdinand making reference to Terry being accused of using racist language towards his brother Anton in 2011.

Terry was found not guilty in court, though he did serve a four-match ban and was fined £200,000 by the Football Association, who deemed he had used "abusive and/or insulting words and/or behaviour" which "included a reference to the ethnic origin and/or colour and/or race of Anton Ferdinand".

In his post Ferdinand wrote: "@JohnTerry26 The moment one has to start pushing their own records and stats it's really time to start addressing the fragile ego.

"Your (sic) lucky I even put you in the top 5 after the racism case with my brother so be thankful you made it."

Terry took his own shot back, writing in reply: "A fragile Ego is putting yourself at Number 1 @rioferdy5. Thanks for putting me in your top 5."

When accused of ignoring Ferdinand's point on the racism allegations by another user, Terry replied: "Stats don’t lie: not guilty. Addressed it, now what?"

Ferdinand was a six-time Premier League winner with United, while he also lifted the Champions League, Club World Cup, and EFL Cup twice.

Terry's list of achievements with the Blues included five Premier League titles, five FA Cups and three EFL Cups. He also has winners' medals in the Champions League and Europa League, though he did not play in either of Chelsea's winning finals in 2012 and 2013.

A group featuring former Chelsea captain John Terry is supporting Stephen Pagliuca's bid to take over the Stamford Bridge outfit, with NBA chairman Larry Tanenbaum also involved.

A statement from the True Blues Consortium, which counts Terry and other former Blues players among its founders, expressed confidence in the ownership bid led by Pagliuca, who co-owns NBA outfit the Boston Celtics and Serie A side Atalanta.

Meanwhile, NBA chief Tanenbaum's involvement in the bid, which had been reported earlier this week, was confirmed by Pagliuca, who also praised the True Blues consortium for their public support.

The True Blues group, which announced an intention to bid for a minority stake in the club last month, has now announced its public support for the 67-year-old's takeover attempt. 

"Having engaged [with] and being well received by all the bidders, we were recently able to spend some time with Steve and Larry," the group said in a statement released to Sky News. 

"Getting to know their bid, we're again confident that they are aligned with Chelsea fans, and of course, have experience in this area of owning sports teams.

"We feel the club are in a fortunate position with the final bidders and look forward to continuing dialogue with them."

Pagliuca spoke publicly about his ownership bid for the first time on Tuesday, pledging never to involve the club in a revived European Super League and suggesting that a redevelopment of Stamford Bridge or a new stadium would also feature in his plans.

The 67-year-old, who is the co-owner of American private investment firm Bain Capital, followed up with another statement on Wednesday, thanking the True Blues group for their support. 

"The group welcomes the endorsement and support of the True Blues Consortium, an organisation dedicated to Chelsea FC and focused on representing fan interests for the club," the statement read, as reported by ESPN.

Confirming Tanenbaum's involvement, Pagliuca called the NBA chief "a world-class individual, who is highly regarded in the global sports community."

He added: "His experience in sports governance, his long-term perspective, and civil construction expertise are tremendous assets for our group."

Pagliuca also pledged to operate "quietly, with integrity" if he succeeds in taking over Roman Abramovich's ownership of the club, confirming a bid will be formally made this week.

"This process has been a disconcerting time for the football club and fans," he continued. "Throughout my life and career, my ethos has always been to operate quietly, with integrity, and let my actions and results speak loudly.

"However, it is imperative to clarify and assure supporters about our bid group and its commitments, to emphasise how seriously we take our potential responsibility to Chelsea.

"Later this week we will submit a substantial and credible bid proposal – one that we expect will meet the respective requirements and regulations of the Premier League, UK Government and UEFA – and we pledge to honour our commitment to credibility and good guardianship of Chelsea Football Club from day one."

Chelsea legend John Terry will join the True Blues consortium in their attempt to buy a 10 per cent stake in the Stamford Bridge club.

The 41-year-old said his involvement came with the goal of "building the best football club in the world" and establishing a "fan connection" with Chelsea, who remain up for sale after owner Roman Abramovich was sanctioned by the UK government.

The True Blues group is comprised of ex-players, including Terry, as well as entrepreneurs and fans, and its plans have been backed in principle by both the Chelsea Supporters' Trust and Chelsea Pitch Owners.

The consortium has made contact with Raine Group, the bank overseeing the sale of the club, in the hope of becoming involved alongside new owners, electing one representative to sit on the board.

Revealing his support for the True Blues on Twitter, Terry wrote: "Chelsea has been such an important part of my life for 22 years.

Four bids for Chelsea were confirmed before Friday's deadline.

Chelsea have announced that club legend John Terry is to return to Stamford Bridge to take up a coaching consultancy role at the Academy.

Terry has been out of work since leaving his role as assistant head coach of Aston Villa under then boss Dean Smith in July.

The 41-year-old played for the Blues for almost 19 years before leaving for Villa Park in 2017 and will now begin a part-time role at Chelsea's Cobham training ground, which according to an announcement on the club's official website will include delivering on-field coaching, contributing to coaching discussions with colleagues, mentoring Academy players and supporting parent dialogue.

Terry will begin his new position at the start of January, and head of youth development at Chelsea, Neil Bath, said of the appointment: "We are delighted to be welcoming John back to Cobham in a role that will involve coaching and mentoring the next generation of young players in our Academy.

"It goes without saying that John's experience in the game, both as a world-class player and more recently as an assistant coach in the Premier League, will be invaluable for everyone in the building.

"He will be a great mentor for our players and a fantastic asset to our coaching staff. We can't wait for him to get started."

Terry made 717 appearances for Chelsea, the third-most in the club's history, over 500 of which came as captain. He won 17 trophies overall, including five Premier League titles and the Champions League, before going on to make 32 appearances at Villa.

On leaving the Midlands club in July, Terry stated it was his intention to move into football management, and it is understood that this remains this case, with the former England international recently being linked with several jobs in the Championship.

Terry told Aston Villa's official website on his departure: "It has always been my ambition to move into football management and, providing the right opportunity presents itself, I feel ready to take up such a challenge."

Chelsea are chasing defenders and Niklas Sule is reportedly a target, with David Alaba seemingly set for Real Madrid.

Premier League outfit Chelsea have been linked with defenders, particularly since Thomas Tuchel replaced Frank Lampard at the helm.

They have three at the top of their list.

 

TOP STORY – CHELSEA EYE SULE

Bayern Munich defender Sule is on Chelsea's shopping list, according to Sport Bild.

The report says Sule's Bayern team-mate Alaba , who is out of contract at the end of the season, and RB Leipzig defender Dayot Upamecano are also among their targets.

Chelsea have kept back-to-back clean sheets since Tuchel took over last month.

 

ROUND-UP

- Alaba seems set to head elsewhere. Marca reports Real Madrid have a four-year agreement in place with Alaba, who has passed his medical.

- Borussia Dortmund seem to be preparing for Jadon Sancho's exit. Sport Bild reports PSV attacker Donyell Malen and Lyon star Memphis Depay, who is also apparently wanted by Barcelona, are targets for Dortmund with Sancho likely to leave at season's end.

- With Andre Villas-Boas having left his post, Marseille are looking for a new coach. Sky Sport reports former Chelsea and Juventus boss Maurizio Sarri has turned down an approach from the Ligue 1 side.

- John Terry is on the list of candidates to become the next Bournemouth manager, according to the Daily Mail. The Championship side sacked Jason Tindall and are said to be looking at the Aston Villa assistant.

- Martin Braithwaite could have left Barcelona. Sport reports the forward turned down a loan move to West Brom during the previous transfer window.

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