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Will Stoke City or West Brom win the race for Chelsea’s Kurt Zouma?

Martyn Cooke

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Midlands rivals Stoke City and West Bromwich Albion are among a host of clubs across Europe that are chasing the signature of Chelsea defender Kurt Zouma according to Sky Sports.

The 22-year-old has been told that he is free to leave Stamford Bridge on loan in order to gain additional first team experience after suffering two years of injury issues and a lack of playing opportunities in West London. Zouma joined Chelsea in January 2014 from French side Saint-Etienne with a reputation of being one of the brightest young defenders on the continent, but the last two years has resulted in his promising career stalling somewhat.

In early 2016 the defender suffered an anterior cruciate ligament injury during a fixture against Manchester United and was side-lined for almost a full year whilst he recovered. He has since struggled to regain his spot in the starting eleven, making just 13 appearances for Antonio Conte last season, whilst Chelsea’s purchase of AS Roma defender Antonio Rudiger forces him further down the pecking order.

Zouma remains part of Conte’s long-term plans, but there is a mutual agreement that a loan move would be beneficial for all parties.

Midlands rivals battle to seal loan deal

Sky Sports claim that Kurt Zouma is due to arrive in the Midlands this week to open discussion with Stoke City and West Bromwich Albion regarding a potential season-long loan move, although a host of other clubs are also keen on his signature.

Mark Hughes is currently in the process of remoulding his first team squad and is keen to bring in defensive reinforcements to help solidify a back line that was relatively frail throughout last season.

Ryan Shawcross is currently the only highly rated central defender at the Bet365 Stadium with negotiations to retain Bruno Martins Indi faltering after his loan deal expired, whilst Philipp Wollscheid, according to the Stoke Sentinel, and Marc Muniesa, according to Spanish outlet Estadio Deportivo,  have been heavily linked with a move away from the Bet365 Stadium.

Zouma would certainly fit the bill but could find first team opportunities limited if a deal for Martins Indi, who partnered Shawcross at the heart of the Stoke defence last season, is agreed.

West Brom are also in the market for defensive recruits after a promising campaign petered out during the final months of last season. The Baggies currently have an abundance of central defenders on their books but have a definitive lack of youth within their squad- Jonas Olsson, Jonny Evans and Gareth McAuley are all over the age of 30.

Former Manchester United defender Evans is also the focus of interest from a number of Premier League rivals, including Leicester City, as per the Mirror, leaving Tony Pulis potentially short of cover.

Whilst Sky Sports are claiming that Stoke and West Brom are the frontrunners in the race for Zouma’s signature, the player will certainly not be short of suitors. The Mirror claim as many as 20 clubs from across Europe are monitoring developments – with Nice, Lyon and Marseille prepared to offer the 22-year-old a return to France, whilst Inter Milan, Sevilla and Valencia are also keen admirers.

However, Chelsea are only prepared to sanction a loan deal on the premise that Zouma is guaranteed a starting role.

A chance to kick-start a career

Kurt Zouma’s career may have stalled over the duration of the last two years but his reputation remains undiminished. He possess all of the attributes that would enable him to excel in any of the elite leagues in Europe – pace, power, strength and a dominant presence – and it is simply a case that the 22-year-old requires regular game time in order to kick-start his development.

The central defender would provide a definitive upgrade for both of the Midland clubs, although it is unclear as to which destination would provide the greater amount of game time. Whilst Stoke are currently short of defensive options, the signing of Bruno Martins Indi could block Zouma’s route into the starting eleven, whilst The Baggies have an abundance of experienced defenders in their squad but lack youthful exuberance and energy.

Mark Hughes and Tony Pulis would have to provide a guarantee of regular first team football before Chelsea would consider sanctioning any deal.

Still only 22 years of age, Kurt Zouma has time on his side. However, he must ensure that he makes the right move for the forthcoming season to get his career back on track.

Featured image all rights reserved Edward Cotrina Casusol.

Martyn is currently a PTA and Research Assistant in the Department of Exercise Science at the Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU). In addition to his teaching role he is also undertaking a PhD in Sports History that is exploring the origins and development of football in Staffordshire. Prior to working at MMU, Martyn spent a decade operating in the sport and leisure industry in a variety of roles including as a Sports Development Officers, PE Teacher, Football Coach and Operation Manager.

Chelsea

Tottenham Hotspur must avoid repeat of Willian situation as Chelsea enter Malcom race

Tottenham are again looking to beat Chelsea to the signing of a Brazilian attacking talent.

Mathew Nash

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Tottenham Hotspur are back in the race for Brazilian winger Malcom. Le10 Sport reported this week that Spurs are now the frontrunners for the player, with Inter Milan falling short in their pursuit. The French source claimed Malcom was now available for just £35.3 million.

The same source has since gone on to report that Tottenham are now looking into the deal. However, that most recent report also commented on the presence of a transfer rival. It is suggested that Chelsea are entering the race.

Which immediately harks back to memories of Tottenham’s failed pursuit for Willian in 2013. Andre Villas-Boas had identified the Anzhi Makhachkala winger as the perfect option for Spurs. As reported by the BBC, a £30 million fee was agreed and a medical had been undertaken. Willian, was set to be a Tottenham player.

(during the Premier League match between Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur at Stamford Bridge on April 1, 2018 in London, England.

However, two days later, Willian had joined Chelsea.

It was a huge blow for Spurs and left them open to ridicule from Chelsea fans.

The parallels are clear. A talented young Brazilian winger wanted by Spurs, but with Chelsea set to swoop in.

The irony on this occasion is that Chelsea may even be targeting Malcom as a replacement for Willian, who is a target for Barcelona and Manchester United.

Tottenham must not be left with their tails between their legs once again.

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Chelsea

Kenedy loan arrival creates transfer window momentum for Newcastle

Jake Jackman

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Photo: Getty Images

Newcastle United are set to complete the loan signing of Chelsea winger Kenedy, according to Sky Sports. The 22-year-old has been a long-term target for Rafa Benitez and he proved why during the second-half of last season in a Magpies’ shirt. He was a revelation and played a major role in the club’s excellent form in 2018.

Although he only contributed two goals and two assists, his overall contribution was a sizeable one and it is not a surprise that Newcastle have brought him back for another year. It is thought that the deal includes an option to buy and that is a positive for the Magpies. At the age of 22, Kenedy is already a first-team calibre player and his potential for growth is huge.

(Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

Benitez knows that he has a limited budget at St James’ Park, but he is doing his best to provide the squad with as much quality as possible. Kenedy joins Ki Sung-Yueng and Martin Dubravka as new signings this summer, with all three joining at a low cost. It shows impressive squad management by the Magpies’ manager as all three have the ability to start regularly for the first-team.

The arrival of Kenedy could be the turning point of the summer for Newcastle and provide the positive momentum required as we reach the final weeks of the transfer window. It was clear that the Brazilian would be the priority target for the club after the impact he had last season. He was one of the standout players during the second half of the campaign, providing the dynamism and final ball that was previously lacking in the squad.

Towards the end of last season, supporters were pessimistic about Kenedy returning for the 2018/19 campaign, due to his excellent form. The risk posed by loan deals is that the parent club can choose to take the player back into their own club, while other teams can become interested. Sky Sports reported back in April that Bayern Munich and PSG were both interested in the 22-year-old. This underlines how highly the player is thought of in the game.

(Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images)

This summer has been one of slow progress for Newcastle with tensions remaining between owner and manager, but the arrival of Kenedy represents a major breakthrough. Benitez wanted the winger to return and the club have made it happen in a deal that provides more security for the Magpies, as they have an option to buy.

They must now use this positive momentum to make further additions to the squad. Benitez will want another two or three quality additions, with a striker being at the top of his hit-list. Newcastle haven’t broken their transfer record since Mike Ashley bought the club, but that will need to change this summer if they are to appease their world class manager.

As long as Benitez remains as the club’s manager, the supporters will have a symbol of hope for the future. However, the Spaniard’s contract expires at the end of the season and he will need to see progress both on and off the pitch before he signs a new deal. The loan signing of Kenedy is a positive, but more quality additions are required to class this transfer window as a successful one.

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Chelsea

Ruben Loftus-Cheek must elevate his career and opt for permanent Crystal Palace move

The 22-year-old looks set to leave Stamford Bridge for a second season, on loan.

Max Cohen

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Ruben Loftus-Cheek
Photo: Getty Images

Reports this week in the Evening Standard claimed Chelsea midfielder Ruben Loftus-Cheek will be looking to move away from Stamford Bridge this summer on loan.

Crystal Palace is reportedly at the front of the queue to sign him, news which will be greeted by Palace supporters given Loftus-Cheek’s excellent 2017/18 season at Selhurst Park.

Yet to truly make a name for himself, Loftus-Cheek must take his career to the next level and complete a permanent move to Crystal Palace this summer.

After Loftus-Cheek’s impressive World Cup appearances, it is clear he is a top talent ready to play consistent first-team football at his parent club.

But Chelsea are currently mired in uncertainty, with rumours swirling about a potential new manager but with nothing confirmed.

(Photo by Ozan Kose/Getty Images)

The Englishman would do well to secure a permanent transfer with the Eagles, an upward-looking club where he has found his best form to date.

A second loan in a row would just stunt his progress another year, psychologically affecting the player by reminding him he is not good enough for Chelsea, even after proving himself on international football’s biggest stage.

At this stage of his career, Loftus-Cheek needs a permanent home – and he can find a perfect one at Palace.

With his long-term future secured in south London, Loftus-Cheek can lead the Eagles to previously unheard of heights. Why keep yourself at a club in disarray that has shown little interest in you, when you can head to Selhurst Park where you are truly celebrated for your talents?

Instead of a second consecutive short-term and short-sighted loan, Ruben Loftus-Cheek needs to make up his mind this summer and finally leave behind his toxic Chelsea relationship for a move to Crystal Palace.

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