The Chelsea loanee has been a revelation for Stoke City this season. However, how much should they sacrifice to keep him around?
Ryan Shawcross had quite a compliment for the young Frech center back Kurt Zouma recently.
“I think he (Kurt Zouma) and Toby Alderweireld is the top two center halves in the country at the moment,” Shawcross said.
It is quite a compliment to be compared to Alderweireld, someone who is widely regarded as one of the best defenders in the world. While Zouma might not be at that level yet, that is an incredible comparison from a veteran like Shawcross.
It wasn’t as if Chelsea wasn’t aware of Zouma’s talent; rather, they wanted him to receive consistent minutes in the Premier League. With Gary Cahil, David Luiz, and Cesar Azpilicueta, there was no room for the Frenchman. However, the young defender made the best of his chances, playing every minute for the Potters in the Premier League except in a clash against Chelsea.
And he has earned that praise without a doubt. Zouma is winning 3.2 aerial duels per game, 1.6 tackles per game, and making 1.7 interceptions per game – all in top-15 among the Premier League center backs. The Frenchman also finishes top-10 in blocks per game and top-5 in clearances per game. I would argue that he has been Stoke’s best player so far this season.
Beyond the stats, Zouma’s passion for the game is another plus. After Stoke City’s 7-2 crushing defeat, the young defender was seen crying on the field.
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Now let us take a step back. He probably isn’t the best player on the team. I might even say Shawcross is still ahead of him. The captain’s leadership and organization is something that can’t just be replaced with raw talent. While Zouma hasn’t made a ton of silly mistakes, he has given away possessions due to poor decisions. That can be attributed to the lack of experiences, but that being said, you can’t put him ahead of Shawcross just yet.
Another problem is the potential cost of Zouma. It is clear that Chelsea is high on him, and he is replacing Gary Cahil sooner rather than later. A defensive duo of Zouma and Andrea Christensen will play for Chelsea for years to come. However, that does not mean they should just give up. Both Shawcross and Geoff Cameron is in his thirties, and they can’t play forever. Zouma is already in the Stoke system. Why not try to keep him?
Even though Stoke City will get plenty of that Premier League money, there is slim to no chance that they will retain Zouma past this season. However, never say never. Maybe he will realize that Chelsea can’t get it done at cold Tuesday night at Stoke.