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[Sports] Kalidou Koulibaly: Chelsea defender on 'legend' Frank Lampard, Romelu Lukaku and Karim Benzema


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Benzema is the best striker in the world - Koulibaly
Chelsea defender Kalidou Koulibaly believes interim boss Frank Lampard is the right man to guide the club out of a "difficult situation".

Lampard, 44, has returned as manager until the end of the season, having replaced the sacked Graham Potter.

The Blues are 11th in the Premier League and face holders Real Madrid in the Champions League quarter-finals, with the first leg on Wednesday.

But Koulibaly said they are aiming to "reach something big this year".

Lampard is Chelsea's all-time leading scorer and won three league titles and the 2012 Champions League during his 13 years as a player, before he managed them from 2019-2021.

And Senegal captain Koulibaly, 31, told BBC Sport: "We know he is a legend here and he has already trained half of the team.

"The situation is like this for the moment, but in training he has been saying he will support us until the end and help us to be out of this situation.

"We know it is a difficult situation for everybody, including the club, manager and supporters, but we will give everything to get out of this and make them happy.

"Our first objective is to win the games and make our supporters happy."

Kalidou Koulibaly and Frank Lampard

'I am with Romelu, I feel sorry for him'
Kalidou Koulibaly
Koulibaly suffered racist abuse from Inter Milan fans in 2018 while at Napoli
Last week, Inter Milan striker Romelu Lukaku said "history repeats itself" after he was racially abused by Juventus fans in their Coppa Italia meeting.

The Belgium international was sent off for holding his finger to his lips in front of the home fans after scoring a 95th-minute penalty and called for Serie A to take "action for real this time".

During his eight years playing in Italy for Napoli, Koulibaly suffered racist abuse on a number of occasions from supporters including at Inter in 2018.

"I don't know why it keeps happening," he added. "There are a few stupid people who think they are allowed to do what they want. Society is not like this and I say to Romelu, I am with him.

"I know this feeling, it happened to me and it is really bad. We have to be proud of him, proud of what he did. He didn't give any respect to anybody and just expressed his feeling at this moment.

"For me, it was good. Maybe others felt he played on their nerves, but they played with him with those stupid actions against him. I feel sorry for him, but everybody is with him and we will always support him."

Benzema 'best striker in the world'
Kalidou Koulibaly and Karim Benzema
Koulibaly came up against Karim Benzema in the Champions League in 2017
Lampard's return to the dugout did not go to plan, losing 1-0 at Wolves on Saturday and it does not get any easier as Chelsea visit Real Madrid next in the Champions League.

Koulibaly will face in-form French striker Karim Benzema, who has scored 26 goals in all competitions so far, including two hat-tricks in his last three games.

Last season, Benzema broke his fast 15 minutes before kick-off and went on to net a hat-trick at Stamford Bridge, sending Chelsea out of the competition at the same last-eight stage.

Koulibaly said: "I said this to newspapers about two or three years ago, he is the best striker in the world. It will be a tough game but I hope Chelsea will win and pass this test.

"It is our objective but it is going to be hard because they won the last Champions League. We believe in ourselves, in our team-mates and manager.

"I am happy for Benzema, he is a good example for the Muslim people that we can do Ramadan, score goals and be productive.

"I hope he continues to score, but not on Wednesday."

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