Chelsea have confirmed the signing of Saint-Etienne defender Kurt Zouma, in a deal which will see him loaned back to the French club for the rest of the season.
The Blues' official website provides the news:
Chelsea Football Club has today (Friday) signed Kurt Zouma from St. Etienne. He will remain on loan at the French club for the rest of the season.
The 19-year-old central defender has joined Chelsea on a five-and-a-half year contract. This season he has made 12 league appearances for France's fourth-placed side.
Julien Laurens, a journalist for Le Parisien, claims a personal phone-call from Mourinho to Zouma convinced the highly rated player to sign:
José Mourinho's phone call to Kurt Zouma made the difference for Chelsea. Well done. He is only 19 but a future world class defender #cfc— Julien Laurens (@LaurensJulien) January 30, 2014
Zouma, who won the under-20 World Cup with France, will join the club with a view to being John Terry's long-term replacement.
Terry, 33, has been an ever-present for Chelsea in the Premier League this season, but has been rotated in other competitions with an eye to maintaining his fitness.
Alongside Gary Cahill, Zouma will have two top-class professionals under whom to learn his trade and develop.
The signing is another move from Chelsea to ensure they have the squad depth to match Manchester City, following the acquisitions of Nemanja Matic and Mohamed Salah earlier in the window.
Mourinho is not just eager to add depth to his squad but to also build a young team capable of challenging over many years.
Sky Sports reports Mourinho saying:
As you can see, Chelsea thinks about the future and when we think about the future, we have scouting, we have contacts, we contact clubs, we contact agents, we contact players that we have permission from clubs, which is the case obviously.
We try to be in control of the situation, but we think we are doing well.
To ensure Zouma is signed now, ahead of his summer arrival, is a typically astute move by Mourinho. He knows Zouma will become a man in demand, so Chelsea will effectively block teams from one of Europe's top defensive prospects.
The deal ensures they cannot be gazumped for the player during the summer transfer window, but allows Zouma to carry on playing regular first-team football and means Saint-Etienne don't lose a player halfway through the season.
In that sense everyone is a winner, which is a word that healthily describes Mourinho.