Saint-Etienne knew there were going to be several clubs knocking on their door this summer. Star striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is one of the hottest commodities thought to be on the market this summer.
However, the beginning of the summer has seen the main interest being pointed towards Saint-Etienne’s youngest star, defender Kurt Zouma.
Zouma has been attracting attention since his U16 days. His potential to be a rock to build a defense around has had clubs like Manchester United and Manchester City reportedly keeping watch over him, according to the Telegraph.
Saint-Etienne tried to fend off the pending interest a while longer by extending his contract until 2017 back in February. Despite their efforts, reports in the media have Zouma as being in the sights of Liverpool this summer.
Liverpool recently brought in Kolo Toure from Manchester City on a free transfer to help fill their defensive needs. Toure is still a productive player, but his biggest impact for Liverpool may end up being as a mentor for Zouma if Liverpool are able to complete a move for his services.
Zouma is a physically imposing specimen, especially for an 18-year-old (he will be 19 in October of this year). Even with the bulk he brings, he is very quick and agile. Zouma’s physical prowess has seen him draw comparisons to French great Marcel Desailly.
Zouma's physical attributes allow him to body up on physical attackers but also handle players with speed. This will serve him well if he makes a move to the Premier League.
Kolo Toure is cut from a similar mold of physique and abilities. His experience in the Premier League will be a perfect guide for Zouma. Toure could help the young defender turn his vast potential into high-level production.
The Saint-Etienne youngster offers the complete package to any suitor. He has very good on-the-ball skills, he is comfortable bringing the ball out of the back and he holds up well against pressure. He is also a solid passer who is improving in his ability to transition the ball to the attack.
In the attack, Zouma is not one who pushes forward much at this time, but he does have the ability to help up top. He is already adept at using his frame and athleticism to carve out space and attack high balls on set pieces in the box.
With further development, he could become a Sol Campbell-type threat on corners and free kicks in the attacking third.
Liverpool would be smart to make this transfer happen, even if they have to pay a little more to obtain his services. Zouma could become the lynchpin to build their defense around for the next decade.
Liverpool will have competition from various clubs for Zouma’s signature, but the Express reports that the biggest obstacle may come from Russian club Anzhi Makhachkala. The well-financed club can offer higher wages and could test Saint-Etienne’s resolve to keep Zouma with an above-market value offer.
In the end, Saint-Etienne will be hard-pressed to let Zouma leave this summer, but it will be worth the effort by Liverpool to do what they can to add a player who has such star potential.