Wednesday 22 November 2017

Chelsea set to sign £12.5m Kurt Zouma to leave John Terry's future in doubt

French defender Kurt Zouma - seen here in action for Saint-Etienne - is reportedly a target for Jose Mourinho and Chelsea
French defender Kurt Zouma - seen here in action for Saint-Etienne - is reportedly a target for Jose Mourinho and Chelsea

Sam Wallace and Matt Law

Chelsea will sign the French defender Kurt Zouma for £12.5m from St Etienne today with a view to the player spending the rest of the season on loan in France before coming to London in the summer, as Jose Mourinho's rebuilding continues.

The deal, Chelsea's fourth signing of the window, puts further pressure on the situation of John Terry, the club captain, whose future beyond this season is yet to be resolved by the club.

Terry (33) has been told that a decision has not yet been made on whether he will get a new contract and he is unlikely to get an answer until March.

Zouma (19) will go straight into the first-team squad when he arrives at Chelsea. The club had planned on signing Porto defender Eliaquim Mangala, with a strong interest in him last summer, but the Porto defender has been given a £38m valuation by his club that Chelsea felt was unreasonable.

PROCESS

The deal for Zouma demonstrates how seriously Mourinho has taken the opportunity to continue his process of change at Chelsea this month.

Nemanja Matic and Mohamed Salah have been brought to the club while Bertrand Traore's future has finally been secured after he became eligible to sign a professional contract in the United Kingdom.

Zouma's arrival in the summer means that Chelsea can afford to be flexible when it comes to the futures of Terry and David Luiz. As ever, the director Marina Granovskaia will have a major part to play in liaising with owner Roman Abramovich over the futures of Terry, Frank Lampard and Ashley Cole – all of whom could potentially leave the club when their contracts expire at the end of the season.

Zouma, a France U-21 international, has been on Chelsea's long-term list and fits their target profile of young talent acquired at a relatively low price.

The defender has served a 10-game ban this season, laid down by a more flexible disciplinary system in France, for a tackle that left Sochaux's Thomas Guerbert with a broken leg and a dislocated ankle.

Gary Cahill, meanwhile, has promised Chelsea will not revert to West Ham's "19th century" style of football in an effort to shut down the Manchester City goal machine on Monday night.

But West Ham manager Sam Allardyce has stuck to his guns over his team's approach at Stamford Bridge, hailing the performance as "sheer brilliance".

Mourinho was critical of the way West Ham secured a goalless draw at Stamford Bridge that left Chelsea three points behind leaders City, saying: "This is not the best league in the world, this is football from the 19th century."

Asked if Mourinho ever sends Chelsea out to defend in the manner of West Ham, Cahill said: "No, no. That was another level on Wednesday night.

"We won't be as defensive as that against Manchester City. It's not very often you get away with that for so long. We bombarded West Ham. Big teams will usually find a gap and score.

"West Ham was disappointing, but we tried, tried and tried again, and couldn't score. It was frustrating to say the least, just the amount of time they took out of the game. Goal-kicks, free-kicks, they must have taken 20 minutes out of the game. Nine out of 10 times, you don't get away with that."

Allardyce laughed off Mourinho's criticism immediately after Wednesday's match and described his team's performance at Stamford Bridge as "sheer brilliance" in an email to supporters that was sent yesterday.

"Last night's 0-0 draw with Chelsea was a great performance, defensively and tactically, by the players in nullifying the world-class players that Chelsea have," said Allardyce.

"They made sure Chelsea resorted to moaning and groaning and waving their arms about, trying to intimidate the referee to get something out of the game that they couldn't get in general play.

"Our solidarity and resilience meant that it wasn't luck, it was sheer brilliance why we got a valuable point."

Despite the fact his team are yet to lose to any of their top-four rivals this season and beat City at Stamford Bridge, Mourinho has warned Chelsea could go the same way as Arsenal and Spurs at the Etihad.

Underlining the fact he believes City are clear favourites to win the title, Mourinho said: "For how many months have I said the same thing? One team is an end product, the other is a team trying to build.

"We go there on Monday and the result at this moment is 0-0. Are they favourites? Yes. Are they favourites to score again four, five, six goals? Yes. But it's 0-0 now and we go there to compete." (© Independent News Service )

Irish Independent

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