Name: Kurt Zouma
Age: 19 (Birth Date: 27 October 1994)
Current Club: AS Saint-Etienne (France)
Position(s): Centre-back / Right-back
Current Market Value: £6.6 million (via TransferMarkt)
2013-14 Season Statistics: 17 games played, zero goals and zero assists
Alternative Chelsea Target(s): Eliaquim Mangala (FC Porto)
Le10Sport (h/t Metro UK) has reported Chelsea have agreed to personal terms with French starlet Kurt Zouma. All that's left is for Chelsea and Saint-Etienne to sort out a transfer fee.
Furthermore, Goal UK has reported Saint-Etienne has left Zouma out of their weekend squad against Bordeaux. Which could be seen as a telltale sign for a transfer in the offing.
It seems Jose Mourinho has spent little time finding places to spend £37.1 million after the sale of Juan Mata. FC Basel's Mohamed Salah and Zouma have been linked with the Portuguese manager less than 72 hours after Mata's departure for Old Trafford was announced.
The French teen is highly touted as a world-class defender for the next decade; finding himself on The Guardian's "Top European Youngsters of the Future" list and Bleacher Report's "Top 100 Players to Watch in 2014" list.
Even so, the French defender is not without controversy. He recently returned from a 10-match ban after a horror tackle in Ligue 1. Though at 19 years old, Zouma has more than enough time to correct his rash tendencies.
That being said, an aggressive streak is a hallmark of becoming a “Mourinho-esque defender.”
The reported agreement on personal terms only confirms the statement Zouma gave to the press earlier this month. The budding centre-back told French publication L’Equipe (via The Daily Mail):
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.
Should the deal be completed by deadline day, an extra six months for Zouma to acclimate himself to the English game and his new teammates would be ideal for each party going into the 2014-15 campaign.
With news coming captain John Terry could be frustrated by Chelsea’s tact with players over 30, finding at worst a competent understudy or at best a replacement for the club legend should be a priority.
As Gary Cahill looks to be a Mourinho favourite in the back-four, and with midfielder Nemanja Matic poised to claim a spot in the double-pivot, the signing of Zouma (or any centre-back) could mark the beginning of the end for Brazilian centre-back/central defensive midfielder David Luiz.
Linked with Barcelona, Manchester United and various other clubs since last summer, another player in one of his preferred positions being purchased might signify Blues’ boss Mourinho doesn’t see Luiz as fit in his Chelsea project of the future.
Many questions and more will be answered this summer, but signing Zouma looks to be a wise investment for the London side during this window.
If the French international secures a spot on France’s 2014 World Cup squad and plays to his ability, the rumoured €10 million (£8.3 million) fee, via Tony Beaker of sportsdirectnews.com, will rise exponentially. Chelsea would be wise to scoop Zouma up before he has a chance to thoroughly impress on the world’s greatest footballing stage.
His age, physique and skill level are idyllic for the club’s ethic; plus the stability created by Mourinho’s presence at Stamford Bridge will mean players brought into his side are there to stay. Which has to be a comforting feeling to all prospective players.