Kurt Zouma Happy to Ignore Transfer Rumours and Fight for Chelsea Future

Tom Sunderland@@TomSunderland_Featured ColumnistJuly 23, 2019

France's defender Kurt Zouma gestures as he arrives at the French national football team training base in Clairefontaine-en-Yvelines on May 29, 2019 as part of the team's preparation for the UEFA Euro 2020 qualifying Group H matches against Turkey and Andorra. (Photo by FRANCK FIFE / AFP)        (Photo credit should read FRANCK FIFE/AFP/Getty Images)
FRANCK FIFE/Getty Images

Kurt Zouma has said he thinks he'll remain at Chelsea this season despite interest from outside Stamford Bridge following a successful loan at Everton last term.

Zouma, 24, was recently praised by new manager Frank Lampard and appears ready to turn down outside interest in an effort to finally cement a first-team place at Chelsea, per the Daily Mail's Matt Barlow:

"I'm happy with what the manager said about me. That means he is seeing the work I'm doing, and I'm very pleased with that.

"We had a chat at the beginning of pre-season, and he was very good with me. We talk a lot. It is true that I enjoyed my time at Everton, but I am a Chelsea player and we'll see what will happen in the end.

"I think it will be here at Chelsea, but the most important thing is to work and to prepare for the season. I want to do really well in pre-season to get my chance and be here."

Everton have been linked with the defender again this summer, but Chelsea's transfer ban means the club are less likely than usual to let even fringe players leave. 

Lampard appears to be a fan of the Frenchman and was clear in his vision for Zouma when recently asked about his future, via Goal:

Antonio Rudiger and David Luiz were the main options in central defence for Chelsea last season, while Cesar Azpilicueta moved back to the right-back position. Andreas Christensen remains among the competition, while Ethan Ampadu has joined RB Leipzig on loan and Gary Cahill left the club this summer.

Sky Sports News recently reported speculation suggesting Zouma had handed in a transfer request at Stamford Bridge as inaccurate. Moreover, sports writer Paul Brown wrote Chelsea were considering sending 21-year-old defender Fikayo Tomori, who was named Derby County's Player of the Year under Lampard last season, out on loan again:

Zouma will have three main rivals for the two centre-back spots at Chelsea, and he continued to stress the importance of consistent minutes during his time at Goodison Park:

"It was a very good season for me. I made some good friends, and I enjoyed my time there with the manager as well.

"It was very good for my development. After my injury I was ready to play week-in, week-out and get used to playing regularly. By going there, that is what I did.

"I feel I am a better player. Everything has improved in my game—tactically and technically as a defender with my positioning."

The France international signed a six-year contract at Chelsea in July 2017, just before he left to join Stoke City on loan. He impressed despite their relegation to the Championship that season and was once again prominent at Everton, featuring in 32 of their 38 Premier League fixtures.

Adam Jones of the Liverpool Echo appeared to suggest Everton had even managed to make Zouma question his Chelsea loyalties:

The Lyon native joined the Blues in 2014 and has made 71 first-team appearances for Chelsea, racking up more combined games for Stoke City (37) and Everton (36) than he's managed for his parent club thus far.

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