With a place at the top of the table after the end of the first three match days of the new Premier League season, Antonio Conte’s Chelsea are off to a dream start to their new campaign as they try and put behind them the debacles of the last season. The former Italian boss has bought in the likes of Michy Batshuayi and N’Golo Kanté to the squad at Chelsea as he tries to make an impact on the English league in his debut season in the country. However, the manager is still in the transfer market, even with just a few days to go for the deadline day, to add a bit of depth to his defence going into the new season.
Gary Cahill and John Terry, the two players who have taken up the responsibilities at the centre of the defence for Chelsea in their first three games, are actually the only two options for the manager to select from for his senior team.
The only other decent centre-back in the squad is French international Kurt Zouma. However, the 21-year old has failed to keep himself fit for the new manager after picking up and ACL injury in February this year which is likely to keep him out of the game for at least another few months. And it is now understood that Conte is pondering over sending the young defender out on loan to help him regain full fitness after he comes back into action halfway through the season.
Bundesliga outfit Schalke are reportedly interested in taking him on a loan but any move that will see Chelsea deplete their defensive cover is nothing short of suicidal. The manager is already desperate for additions to his defence with the likes of Kalidou Koulibaly from Napoli, Nikola Maksimovic from Torino and Alessio Romagnoli from AC Milan among many other who were reportedly eyed by the manager this summer. However, for one reason or the other, Conte has not been able to get his targets to sign for the club and is still a bit weak at the back.
Though Zouma may not be fit to play for the club at least till the turn of the year making him a liability to the squad till the next transfer window, he is a player who has accustomed himself to the Premier League and is touted to take John Terry’s place (only at the heart of the Chelsea defense).
He is a confident player who is dominating in his penalty box and is someone who is way matured beyond his years. In his 38 games for Chelsea, he has hardly given the Blues a chance to criticise him and has always been a solid presence at the back for the club. John Terry, who is now the longest serving player in the Premier League may be fit enough to play most games this season but Chelsea need a player who can take his place with some command and Zouma is one who will tick all the boxes for the manager.
Antonio Conte may be right in asking him to find some game time elsewhere but it would be cruel to send him out of the club even without giving him a chance to prove himself. Conte may yet sign a defender before Wednesday, but Kurt Zouma is one of those players who can very well surprise him with his aspects even when he’s fresh from an injury.
Besides, Schalke have the likes of Howedes, Naldo and Nastasic, a good defensive unit. Zouma might not necessarily become a first team player at Gelsenkirchen.
He needs support and confidence to bounce back from injury on a strong note and sending him out on loan to the Bundesliga may not be the right approach to getting him back on track and giving him a chance to realise his potential. By no means can Conte afford to lose Zouma this summer. Do you think it is a bright move for Conte to even think about sending Zouma on loan this summer?