He was sold to Angers for €2million
The midfielder arrived at Bastia in the summer of 2014, initially learning his trade with the youth team while making sporadic appearances for Bastia II in the fifth tier of French football. The following campaign he split time between the A and B teams, including 15 appearances in Ligue 1. This would then lead on to a highly productive 2016/17 campaign from the player’s perspective as he featured 30 times (including 25 starts). Unfortunately, despite his best efforts, Bastia were relegated from the top flight. Due to financial difficulties the club were relegated beyond Ligue 2 to the National division, only to be denied entry and placed in National 3. Ironically, this was the level Coulibaly played at when he started his career in France and avoided going back when Angers came in with a €2million offer. (It’s also ironic for another reason but we won’t get into that.)
Largely the Malian international has played in the centre of the park, often on the right of a three-man unit. When stationed there, he likes to get forward and overlap the right-midfielder, so it’s no surprise to learn he’s also spent time at right-midfield. Typically, though, he does his best work a little further back and can also be used as a defensive midfielder, while he’s also played a couple of games at right-back.
He’s quick and powerful
Coulibaly’s main attributes are his quickness and power, which enables him to adapt to different positions. While he’s not the tallest of midfielders - listed at 5ft 9in on Wyscout.com - he’s strong and can hold his own in physical battles with opposing players, whether in or out of possession.
Interestingly, despite the obvious height disadvantage in a crowded penalty box, his only goal for Angers (and, indeed, his only goal in Ligue 1) was a header from a corner kick.
He does a somersault when he celebrates
Who doesn’t love a player who breaks out the amateur gymnastics after they score? If he’s able to cement his place in the Rangers team and, on occasion, find the back of the net, then he’s sure to endear himself to the Ibrox faithful further with a somersault or two.
He’s not particularly creative
There’s plenty of time to improve this side of his game, but for the meantime he’s not the most inventive of players in the final third. Perhaps the Ladbrokes Premiership, which we must admit is generally weaker than Ligue 1, will help coax out this side of his game as he grows in confidence. But the fans shouldn’t expect someone who’ll help Steven Gerrard’s side rack up goals.
Instead, they should hope for someone along the lines of Dundee’s Glen Kamara: a midfielder who’s got quick feet, good upper body strength, a bit of pace and is willing to dribble his way out of trouble.
Kamara was one of the best players in the top flight last season, so it would be foolish to suggest Coulibaly is capable of producing to that extent right away, but the potential is there.
He plays vertically
Looking at footage of the 22-year-old, he could be a suitable partner for Ryan Jack at the base of the midfield as their talents would compliment each other well. Instead of playing side to side and looking, first and foremost, to recycle possession, as Jack does, Coulibaly is not afraid to driving the ball forward and playing through the lines. He works vertically and looks to push play up the field quickly.
The jury’s out on whether he’ll be brought along slowly
He’s a player with a lot of talent but a lot to learn. He’s never played in British football before, is still fairly young and inexperienced, and may have suffered a dent to his confidence having only made 11 starts for Angers last term.
Then again, Coulibaly has his fans in French football; those who believe he should have utilised more often. If he’s able to transfer those abilities to the Scottish game then he’ll encourage consideration for a starting spot from the off. With a lot of competition for places in the Ibrox engine room, though, it certainly won’t be easy.