Frenchmen Kurt Zouma has been a Chelsea player for nearly six years now. He is currently on loan with Everton having had a poor loan spell with Stoke City last season. Following Zouma’s knee ligament injury in winter 2015 his game time has been limited with the Blues.
Having started to make a lot of progress in his Chelsea career under Jose Mourinho, following managers have isolated Zouma and left him on the sideline. Although Everton have been shaky and inconsistent this season, Zouma has shown glimpses of the commanding centre back he can be.
If his form continues for the rest of the year then Kurt Zouma‘s performances for Everton are keeping his hopes of a future at Chelsea alive.
Kurt Zouma Performances Keeping Chelsea Hopes Alive
It was less than two years ago that Zouma was sat on the Chelsea bench with Jose Mourinho as Chelsea boss. Bayern Munich snapping at the heels of the club to let them take Zouma to Germany. At this point, it looked like Chelsea might be losing their replacement for John Terry.
Zouma wasn’t just a prospect when he broke into the Chelsea team that season, he was a player truly developing at some pace into a solid and reliable centre back. Alongside Gary Cahill and with John Terry on the training ground Zouma will have learnt a lot. It was in this 2015/16 season that Zouma broke into the first team, making 23 league appearances before his injury kept him out for over ten months.
While it would be fair to say that he has not looked the same player since, he is still only 24 years old, for a centre back he is mature and has the potential to challenge that of the best in the world. Zouma’s first impressions were not due to his immense commanding body or leadership or positioning and know how, not for a young 22-year-old taking his first steps in the English game. It was his athleticism.
Zouma is the epitome of a modern-day athlete. He is strong, quick and energetic. It was his powerful recovery tackles and flying headers that made him a firm favourite for the Blues. His long legs saw Zouma cover incredible distances in short amounts of time, providing brilliant back up and support for ageing defenders in his time at Chelsea.
A Major Setback
Maybe the most inspiring and also important thing about Zouma is his attitude. He has come back from a bad injury and has gone on to make his 100th Premier League appearance last week for Everton. This desire to succeed and to perform on the biggest stage is a characteristic to admire. Zouma possesses a wonderful great fullness of character and does not let his stature as a footballer hinder himself in any way.
It is this sort of recovery and work rate that shows how Zouma can go on still to be a very important player for Chelsea. He is showing not only what fans like and require at the very least from players, determination and belief. He is also showing a love for the club.
Zouma has not given up on his career at Chelsea. He has taken necessary backwards steps to improve again. Being injured at a young age can knock confidence and belief out of a player, it can also cloud a player’s mind. This mental strength is his right to walk back into a team.
Zouma has responded like a true professional and is showing the mentality in his wider career decisions to prove he can make it to the top of world football. Going to Stoke cannot have been easy having been a consistent member of a championship-winning squad before the injury. Zouma rose to the task and set about regaining fitness and match experience.
His move to Everton in the summer made perfect sense. Playing under an expansive manager for a club that is often the best of the rest. Despite Everton not being particularly outstanding this season it is not necessarily about Zouma’s performances. It is about himself proving a point. Not only to himself, but to Chelsea as a club, and to Maurizio Sarri.
Chelsea need ball-playing centre-backs. This isn’t massively a role that Zouma likes or is capable of playing. He certainly doesn’t have the passing range of David Luiz (however not many do). He is also not currently as assured as Chelsea’s main back up Andreas Christensen. However, that does not mean this is the end for Zouma in a Chelsea shirt. It is Christensen’s ability on the ball that can motivate Zouma to come back to Chelsea in the summer.
Meanwhile, this can also be seen as a reason why Zouma would be wary of his first-team chances. Christensen was an integral part of Chelsea’s team last year but has struggled to make an impression on Sarri this season. Although this is due to Sarri’s new situation rather than a negative of Christensen. Next season we will likely see more of the Dane.
With Luiz set to sign a new contract and Antonio Rudiger the seemingly preferred longer-term option in the centre of defence, would Zouma get enough game time at the Bridge to satisfy him? Especially when he can be the first choice for a club just three or four places lower than Chelsea?
While Zouma would be played throughout a season, it is not fleeting cup appearances and assured rotation that the Frenchmen would want at just 24. He will not be guaranteed first-team football next season for Chelsea but Zouma is making all the right choices and putting in high-quality performances that will make Chelsea consider him.
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