Chelsea could be preparing to allow another young star to leave the club on loan after Reuben Loftus-Cheek joined Crystal Palace as Sky Sports report that Kurt Zouma will hold talks with Stoke and West Brom over a potential season long loan switch.
The Mirror claim that as many as 20 clubs have registered an interest in the 22-year-old, with European giants such as French clubs Nice, Lyon and Marseille, Spanish duo Sevilla and Valencia and Italian side Inter Milan also in the chase for his services.
There is an argument to be made for loaning Zouma out. A cruciate knee ligament injury ruled him out for over a year and the Frenchman has been making up for lost time since then. However, he made just 13 appearances after returning to fitness under Antonio Conte with only three of those being Premier League starts, lasting 90 minutes just once in a meaningless win over Watford with the league title already secured.
It is clear that the reigning Premier League champions have no room to allow a player to regain fitness in their side, with David Luiz, Gary Cahill and Cesar Azpilicueta dominating the team selection last season. With Antonio Rudiger having arrived, that is only likely to make it harder for Zouma to compete.
That said, the Blues will have to handle the added pressure of the Champions League this season. The competition will add at least six midweek fixtures to their calendar and Antonio Conte will be hoping that it adds many more. The Italian coach was fortunate that his defence stayed injury free last season without such complications, if they can do so again in 2017/18 without more rotation it would be not only a shock but a minor miracle.
Conte may already have added Rudiger to the ranks, but that leaves only one senior player defender on the bench which could rapidly deplete if one player suffers a long term injury. That will see Conte’s squad look significantly weaker than last season, when Nathan Ake and John Terry joined Zouma in supporting the starting trio.
For Zouma’s development it may be best to allow him to go elsewhere for regular game time, but given Chelsea’s transfer woes so far this summer, they may not be able to afford to take a decision focusing on his long term prospects.
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