The transfer gossip has seen its share of Kurt Zouma to Chelsea traffic for over a month now. It had appeared that a January move for the French defender was on the books, but Saint-Etienne coach Christophe Galtier put a hold on those thoughts, according to Ian Holyman of ESPN FC.
In Holyman's article he quotes Saint-Etienne's coach from statements covered by RMC.
We're fourth, I don't know in which position we'll finish. What is sure is that our season isn't finished, and as I don't wish it to be finished, we're going to keep our best players and even if there are some who go and knock on the board's door, I don't see why we'd let those players we wish to keep now leave.
Because we were knocked out of the Coupe de France by Cannes? No. We're going to resist, the players are under contract and that's that.
These comments appear to put Zouma's "dream transfer" on hold for now. Zouma had told L'Equipe (via Mirror Football's Alan Wilson) that he had been in contact with Chelsea coach Jose Mourinho, and Chelsea were one of his favorite childhood teams (B/R's Richard Langford covered Zouma's comments in a recent report).
Waiting to move the young star until the summer may be what is best for both Saint-Etienne and Zouma. As Galtier stated, ASSE are currently in fourth place in Ligue 1. Sending out key players during the final half of the season could jeopardize their opportunity for European competition.
Some may argue that ASSE have been performing fine without Zouma. The defender is set to return to action Friday night after serving his 10-game suspension for an ill-advised tackle against Sochaux.
The key is Saint-Etienne's defense are better with Zouma, and without him, they are one injury away from having a hole in their back four. Keeping their defense intact is key as ASSE does not have the firepower to go toe-to-toe with the likes of PSG and Monaco.
The other benefit for Saint-Etienne is the transfer fee for Zouma should be higher come summer. Returning to action will remind scouts of why he is so highly regarded, and with other teams clamoring for his services, ASSE can maximize the return.
Chelsea could still get a transfer done for Zouma during the winter period. A deal that includes Zouma being loaned back to ASSE for the remainder of the season would insure Mourinho gets his man, Saint-Etienne get to keep their team together and Zouma gets his dream move.