Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho has admitted he didn’t have the final say when it came to the signing of former Nantes defender Papy Djilobodji.
Speaking to the assembled press on Friday ahead of the Blues’ trip to Everton, Mourinho revealed that the defender was signed on the say-so of a figure he trusts, insisting he didn’t have time to run the rule over the Senegalese centre-back, per Jacob Murtagh of the Daily Mirror:
It was not my choice. It was the choice of someone I trust completely, which is the same. I don’t know every player.
My job doesn’t allow me to travel and spend hours watching players. In some moments of the market, under certain circumstances, there are moments when you have to trust or not the people you work with.
In my case, I trust because the same person who told me Djilobodji can be a good squad player was the same person who told me [Kurt] Zouma can be a fantastic player for us. Obviously I trust him.
Djilobodji was a regular starter for Nantes and a solid defender, but during his days in Ligue 1, he never really looked like a player who could come in and do a job for Chelsea.
The 26-year-old certainly has the somatotype for the Premier League, and standing a 6’4”, he is a player who is commanding in the air. But his concentration does waver at times, and he’s a player that will struggle against nippy forwards with intelligent movement.
However, as we can see here courtesy of WhoScored.com, statistically, Djilobodji fares well in a variety of key defensive areas:
But adapting to the Premier League will be a big ask for the player. Sadly for him, he won’t get the chance to feature in the Champions League. That’s because the Blues decided not to include the summer signing in the squad for their European commitments, per Murtagh’s piece, leaving Mourinho with just six defensive players to call upon.
“Djilobodji is one of our four central defenders and hopefully useful for us,” explained Mourinho, per Murtagh’s piece. “But if he is in the Champions League squad [Bertrand] Traore or Kenedy are not in the list. ... The group phase has six matches, and we need to be very unlucky if we need Djilobodji in the team when we have JT, Cahill, Zouma and Ivanovic.”
Without having even kicked a ball for his new team, it's not looking promising for the centre-back. Indeed, French football writer Robin Bairner predicted that the 26-year-old will struggle to make a long-term career at Stamford Bridge:
It’s going to be intriguing to see just how big a role Djilobodji plays moving forward. The Blues will be delighted if he showcases levels comparable to Kurt Zouma—who's been extremely impressive since his move from Saint Etienne—but for the time being, the Senegalese seems as though he’ll be well down the pecking order.
For someone as brash as Mourinho to surrender control on a transfer deal does sound peculiar, but if the figure aforementioned does have a proven track record, it’s understandable.
Nevertheless, if Chelsea were on the hunt for a first-team player, you can’t imagine Jose being quite so happy relinquishing the responsibility.