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Stoke City have signed defender Kurt Zouma from Chelsea on a season-long loan after the player signed a new six-year contract with the Blues (BBC Sport).
The 22-year old hardly featured last season under Antonio Conte, and following Antonio Rudiger’s arrival earlier this month and Andreas Christensen’s return from loan, it was unlikely that Zouma was going to get regular action at the Stamford Bridge in the coming season.
Stoke were in need of defensive reinforcements ahead of next season, after having lost last season’s mainstay Bruno Martins Indi, who returned to parent club FC Porto following the expiry of his loan spell at the end of the term. Marc Muniesa has been continuously linked with an exit, as he wants more regular football while Phillip Wollscheid has returned from a poor loan spell at Wolfsburg last season and maybe pushed out of the door in the summer.
Having brought in Zouma, Stoke have gotten their hands on one of the brightest young defenders in the Premier League.
The Frenchman broke into the first team at St. Etienne as just a 16-year old and has continued his rapid rise from thereon. Chelsea signed the defender in January 2014 but allowed him to spend the second half of the 2013-14 season on loan at Etienne. Having joined the Blues ahead of the following season, Zouma went on to replace captain John Terry from the starting line-up under then-manager Jose Mourinho, indicating his immense potential and talent.
The 22-year old played an important role in the title triumph in his first season with Chelsea, but could not build on his impressive debut campaign, as a serious knee injury kept him out for a long time. Having made his return to full fitness only in February 2016, he did not feature heavily under Conte last season, making just 13 appearances for the Premier League champions.
Zouma may not have played a lot in the past year or so, but his abilities are irrefutable. The defender is a beast physically, standing at 6ft 3in and bears a robust presence. Strong in the air and on the ground, Zouma also possesses decent pace for a defender. He has earned a reputation for being a good reader of the game and tends to avoid diving into challenges recklessly and possesses great awareness to danger.
Primarily a no nonsense, old fashioned centre-half, Zouma has displayed that he can play in a defensive midfield role, as well as at right-back, providing additional options to Stoke City boss. The Potters have had great success with a Chelsea player on loan previously in the form of Victor Moses and Zouma has all the abilities and the potential to turn out into a similar story at the Bet365 Stadium come next season.