Friday, September 29, 2023

Stoke City Close To A Move For This French Defensive Beast: But Is This The Right Move For The Player?

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Soham Dwibedi
Lives, breathes and dreams football. To reiterate the words of Bill Shankly, "some people think football is a matter of life and death. I assure you, it's much more serious than that."

Further contributing to Chelsea’s burgeoning loan army, Kurt Zouma has reportedly agreed on a season long loan deal with Stoke City. Initially reluctant to go out on loan, the Frenchman has come around to the idea of plying his trade on a more regular basis for The Potters than being the sixth-choice defender at Chelsea.

In the wake of Chelsea unveiling Antonio Rudiger, having missed out on primary targets Leonardo Bonucci, who could be on his way to Milan as we speak; and Southampton’s Van Dijk, deterred by their lofty valuation of the player, it didn’t make sense for Zouma to stick around. The 22-year-old, afforded his first start by Jose Mourinho, showed promise but has failed to live up to the billing after the ACL tear he suffered last year.

With the likes of Gary Cahill, Cesar Azpilicueta, David Luiz, Rudiger and the incoming Andreas Christensen, from his successful loan spell at Borussia Monchengladbach, ahead of him, the promise of more first-team opportunities at Stoke could help the 22-year-old realise his potential faster.

The Frenchman has put pen to paper on a new 4-year Chelsea deal before agreeing on the move to Stoke. Chelsea have seen the likes of Nathaniel Chalobah leave recently for more first-team opportunities after being disgruntled at limited chances at the Stamford Bridge outfit, and would have heaved a sigh of relief as Zouma clearly sees his long-term future with The Blues.

A player with immense potential, Zouma fits in with Conte’s ideology of starting attacks from the back due to his composure on the ball and precise passing. Standing at 190cm, the defender comes off superior in most aerial duels and is also a goal threat in set-piece situations.

Also attracting interest from West Bromwich Albion, it is a widely held view that the defender may have benefited more under the tutelage of Tony Pulis, regarded as one of the best defensive managers in the country. Well versed in the art of organising his team’s back-line and shutting shop in the face of marauding Premier League teams boasting players who can unlock any defence in the world, the 22-year-old could be better served under the Welshman who was himself a defender in his playing days, than Stoke boss Mark Hughes, who has played as a striker for the likes of Manchester United, Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Chelsea, Southampton, Everton and Blackburn Rovers.

Chelsea scouts would be keeping a keen eye out for the Frenchman in the hopes that he can shake off his jittery start post-injury so that he can be welcomed back to the Chelsea fold as soon as next summer.

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