Former Chelsea star Salomon Kalou has discussed the main difference between playing in the Premier League and the Bundesliga, admitting that defenders make life harder for the attackers in the German top flight.
Kalou has been a regular feature of Hertha Berlin’s attack since his move in 2014, scoring 34 goals in 108 games after snagging 36 in 156 during his six seasons in west London. He’s made history too, given Kalou was the first player to score ten or more goals in the English, French, German and Dutch leagues.
The 32-year-old told 90min that the more calculated approach to the game in Germany changes the way teams play, explaining: “The tempo is higher in the Premier League, you have more tempo and everything goes forward – they want to score as many goals as possible. Here, it’s more calculated. They wait for the right moment to attack, and they’re very tactical.”
“I think it’s the Bundesliga [defenders who are more difficult to face]. The defenders are very difficult because they never commit one against one, they always wait for cover and they never go forward so you don’t have the space to go one against one. The Premier League defenders, you have a lot of defenders playing one on one so it’s easier to play that way than when they’re always waiting for you.
Kalou’s decorated career has seen him win the Premier League, Champions League and Africa Cup of Nations – admitting that the English top flight title meant the most to him. “It’s not easy to win,” he said, “and 2009, when we won it with Ancelotti, it was a great time. It was the beginning of something – the first one is always the best.
“I have great memories at Chelsea, I have great memories in the Premier League and England, but if I come back now I will have to play for a team that isn’t Chelsea, and that’s something I couldn’t do.
“For me, I have great memories and I have no regrets about my time there – and I want to keep those great memories, so I won’t play for another team in England. I’m happy to stay where I am now.”
Asked whether something about the behind-the-scenes structure at Stamford Bridge lent itself to the famous high rate of player and managerial turnover, he bit back: “Well I don’t think it’s just Chelsea – even teams like Madrid are like this.
“They change the players and the coach because the financial backing is there. I think Chelsea just have the same power every big club has where they can change things every season. It’s true that Chelsea have gone through a lot of managers, but you have to go through that if you want the best players. I think the owner always wants the best for his team.”
Kalou then turned his attention to this season’s Bundesliga, and weighed in with his own view on the title race in Germany – which currently sees Borussia Dortmund, Bayern Munich and RB Leipzig all separated at the top by one point.
The Hertha man praised Peter Bosz’s side, saying: “I think at this moment Dortmund are playing very good football, so they’re the team at the top at the moment. Bayern are struggling, but you can never count them out because they have top players and they can always bounce back. I think they’ll bounce back – the players they have are too good.”