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.