AS Saint-Etienne defender Kurt Zouma has spoken to Jose Mourinho ahead of his proposed move to Chelsea, as reported by L'Equipe and via ESPN journalist Julien Laurens:
Kurt Zouma in L'equipe today: "When Mourinho called me a month ago, I first thought it was a joke! Its a mark of respect and confidence" 1/2— Julien Laurens (@LaurensJulien) January 16, 2014
2/2 "I love Chelsea since I was a boy. I always play with them on Playstation. Blue is my favourite colour. If im told to go there, I will."— Julien Laurens (@LaurensJulien) January 16, 2014
Liam Twomey of Goal.com provides Zouma's extended comments:
There was advanced contact last month. At the start I thought it was a joke but afterwards I quickly took [Mourinho's] call seriously.
When a great man like Jose Mourinho calls a little player like Kurt Zouma, it’s nice. It doesn’t happen every day and it’s a big sign of respect and confidence.
If you tell me to go to Chelsea, I’ll go there immediately! Especially after the call from the coach. It’s given me ideas. I’m playing my third season in Ligue 1. In June, it will be time to go and see how things happen elsewhere.
Zouma's comments add weight to the notion that a deal with Chelsea is imminent and highlight that Mourinho would be getting a player who is fully committed to Chelsea's cause.
Should Kurt Zouma be recognised as a long-term replacement for John Terry?
The 19-year-old's agent recently confirmed he is brokering a deal with "some big clubs," per Jamie Sanderson of the Metro, although it appears any agreement struck now might be based on a summer completion date.
Zouma has become a regular feature of Christophe Galtier's team this term—making 11 appearances in Ligue 1, per WhoScored.com—three of which have resulted in clean sheets.
Unfortunately for the youngster, a mistimed tackle against Sochaux's Thomas Guerbert saw him red carded after 28 minutes at the beginning of November 2013. Zouma received a 10-match ban for the lunge and hasn't played in the domestic division since.
It seems Mourinho has got in touch since this mishap. As noted by Joe Krishnan of the Evening Standard, Chelsea's January transfer dealings—which have seen the Portuguese manager add Nemanja Matic to his side, per Sky Sports—will have repercussions on the squad:
If Chelsea signed Matic, Fischer & Zouma in this window, I'd be very pleased indeed. Obviously De Bruyne, Essien and Kakuta going.. #CFC— Joe Krishnan (@joekrishnan) January 16, 2014
Mourinho has watched on as Chelsea push Arsenal all the way for this season's Premier League lead—but despite sitting two points behind the Gunners—the Blues boss will be far from happy with a number of defensive lapses during the campaign.
While Chelsea have kept five clean sheets in their last six games, conceding three away at Sunderland and Stoke during November will have given Mourinho plenty to think about.
Zouma, whose powerful attributes and ball-playing skills should be welcomed at Stamford Bridge, has the ability to provide cover while also ushering in a post-John Terry era at the club.