Ever since he arrived from St Etienne as a young defender under Jose Mourinho, the Frenchman has excited Chelsea fans and developed into a brilliant centre-back who has come through hardship, setbacks and doubts.
Given the way he recovered from his horrendous injury in 2016 against Manchester United was incredible to witness given the severity of it and time out. There may still be a sense of what could have been for Zouma if that injury didn’t happen. He was becoming one of the club’s regular starters in a challenging 2015/16 season under interim boss Guus Hiddink, alongside John Terry.
There was a sense the then 21-year-old would go onto to learn from a club icon and one of the best in his position. That injury halted his development and meant he was forced to go on loan for regular first team minutes with Stoke City and Everton.
Though coming back under Frank Lampard during a transfer ban allowed Zouma the chance to re-establish himself at Stamford Bridge and that’s what he did.
Zouma played 151 appearances for the club scoring ten goals. Only 139 players have managed to get that number in the 116 years formed to date. He will say goodbye to the club after seven years and a half years contracted to the club winning five trophies with the Blues.
- Premier League: 2014–15, 2016–17
- League Cup: 2014–15
- Champions League: 2020–21
- Super Cup: 2021
Kurt Zouma’s departure in one tinged with sadness for myself and other supporters I know.
It is easy to forget how brilliant the Frenchman was at the beginning of last term alongside Thiago Silva in a back four with Ben Chilwell and Reece James either side of the centre-back pairing. Looking at his numbers Zouma was ranked as one of the best in Europe in his position and it was helping Chelsea win games.
The 2020/21 season was also his best for goals from set-pieces, which was always an area many of us felt could be lethal from with his tremendous leap and physicality.
The dip in form under Lampard, and the swift change in head coach, meant Zouma was suddenly dropped to the bench. He spent much of the second half of last season as a backup to Thomas Tuchel’s preferred back three options. A bit like the situation Tammy Abraham found himself in, it’s not a case Zouma is simply not good enough, he is victim to a regime change that stylistically does not favour him.
I like Zouma too much to see him isolated and wasted on the bench when he deserves so much more given his talent and prime age.
I believe Zouma will become West Ham’s best defender and would not be stunned if in a couple of years he is a main centre-back at a leading European club because he’s that good when given opportunities.
His positive energy and smile has been infectious throughout his entire time at the club and fans will never forget that. Apart from being a loveable guy off the pitch, on it, he’s put in some big performances despite struggling to be a guaranteed starter. I think back to the 2015 League Cup Final win over Spurs where Jose had him at defensive midfield to cover for Nemanja Matic’s absence.
Jose repeated the trick at home to Manchester United later that season in a crucial win to take the Blues closer to the Premier League crown. His tackle in the dying seconds away to Crystal Palace in July 2020 was vital in Chelsea’s successful pursuit of a top four finish. And even if it was only for one of the knockout games, he was brilliant at home to Atletico Madrid last season in the middle of the back three.
Thank you Kurt, I’ve loved seeing you in Blue and wish you all the best in your career.
Ever since Kurt joined Chelsea in 2014 I’ve had a soft spot for Kurt Zouma and his positive attitude and strong tackles. His parents saw the future in him by giving him the middle name of ‘Happy’. Kurt started his Chelsea career very well as he started to form a great partnership with John Terry and looked to be the next in line to be our centre-back for the next ten seasons. Sadly midway through the season, he ruptured the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee after landing awkwardly from a jump in a match against Manchester United. He required surgery and was ruled out for six months.
From that point on he was fighting for his place and got sent on loans to Stoke and Everton in his fight to get back up to speed. Under Frank Lampard last season he showed his form scoring five goals in the first half of the season as he formed a good partnership with Thiago Silva. Since Thomas Tuchel joined in January, his game time has gone down and not used enough in the back three.
I think his ability on the ball and passing is often overlooked like we need defenders to be more midfielders than having a solid defender that can in fact defend and win aerial duels. Him leaving, makes me worry if teams target long balls and set pieces if we have the men to beat opposition teams best headers of the ball.
One thing is for certain, Kurt leaves Chelsea with his head held up and with fans loving what he’s done for this club. He will be missed by a large base of the fan base even if it is deemed the best time for him to say goodbye. West Ham will be getting a solid defender that will not only make the fans happy but get along with anyone in their squad. I’m sure the Chelsea squad will miss his happy positive attitude.
All the best Kurt
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I’ll miss Kurt Zouma at Chelsea – West Ham have sealed a bargain for a widely under-appreciated player who has also stepped up for the Blues when others haven’t.
Aside from his infectious smile and unique ability to lift fans off their seats with slide tackles, Zouma is a someone who still has a lot yet to offer. A move to West Ham is just the start of his next chapter. Zouma will only get better under sustained game time in an exciting project, and his emergence in the France national team shows that.
Although not to the same pedigree as Kevin De Bruyne or Mohamed Salah, Chelsea will be left to rue his departure one day. Merci Zouma!
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