Kurt Zouma: My difficult journey back to Chelsea first team

August 20th, 2019 by Olasunkanmi Ibikunle

Chelsea defender Kurt Zouma has expressed his happiness to be back in the club after his three years in limbo, describing his route into the first team as a “very, very long journey”.

The 24-year-old’s progress was halted by a knee injury in 2016 that kept him out of action for more than nine months.

He was then sent out on loan to Stoke, during which time the club were relegated and then, last season, Everton, where he impressed.

There was hope at Goodison Park that he would sign on a permanent deal but Lampard, having replaced Maurizio Sarri, brought Zouma back to Stamford Bridge and has gone on to show faith in the centre-back.

The France defender has started each of Chelsea’s three games this season. They have yet to win under Frank Lampard and Zouma played poorly in the opening-day defeat by Manchester United but there have been encouraging signs.

For Zouma, in particular, there are reasons to feel upbeat, report the Guardian.

“It has been a very, very long journey. I don’t want to talk about that now, because that is the past but I fought very hard,” said Zouma after Sunday’s 1-1 home draw with Leicester.

“People don’t know, people don’t see but I was in the shadow, working hard to get back because I had a very bad injury. I was off for one year but people forget that and don’t see. But I always believed in myself. My family was always there behind me and now I am back here, I am very happy to play here. I just want to keep going.

“Everything is done now. I have to do my job. I just want to work hard and play. That’s what I’m trying to do and the most important thing is the team. We need to start winning games.”

Zouma was not surprised by Lampard’s decision to start him in all three games. “That’s what I wanted,” he said.

“I am in a big club and everyone wants to play. The competition is very hard and there are a lot of talented players, so when you train you have to do it right. That’s what I am trying to do and that’s what I am working hard for.”

Zouma, along with Mason Mount and Tammy Abraham, have formed part of a new and younger Chelsea and he believes they will improve the more they play together.

“We are understanding each other,” he said. “There are players who came back – like me – and other players, the younger guys who came in. Now we are starting to understand each other. We just need to be more clinical and get the wins.”

Photo Credit: premierleague.com

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Kurt Zouma breaks silence on his reported desire to return to Everton, reveals what Frank Lampard told him

July 23rd, 2019 by Olasunkanmi Ibikunle

Chelsea defender Kurt Zouma has revealed his desire for a future at Stamford Bridge but stressed his need to play regularly to preserve his ambitions to play for France at Euro 2020.

Everton are reportedly desperate to sign the Frenchman permanently after impressing on loan at Goodson Park last season.

But Chelsea boss Frank Lampard is equally determined to keep Zouma at Stamford Bridge.

‘I’m happy with what the manager said about me,’ said Zouma.

‘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.’

On Everton loan stint. ‘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.

‘I still have a lot to learn and to work on but I feel I have done a lot since my injury and I’m very happy with it.’

His progress at Everton was rewarded with an international recall and Zouma’s desire to stay in the France team ahead of Euro 2020 and add to his four caps provides the backdrop to this big decision over his club future.

Under Silva at Goodison he can be confident he will be a first-choice starter.

At Chelsea there is the allure of Champions League football but also fierce competition, especially when Antonio Rudiger, the regular defensive partner for David Luiz last season, returns from a knee injury, report the Daily Mail.

Rudiger will miss the start of the new campaign after surgery but is ahead of schedule with his recovery and is aiming to be back by October.

‘It was one of my targets to get into the France team,’ said Zouma. ‘It is very important to me. I had been there before and wanted to come back. I managed to do that which made me very happy.

‘Now the target is to play at the Euros next year but to be there you have to be playing at your club. That is why I’m working very hard in pre-season. We will see what’s going to happen.

‘There are a lot of players here and a lot of quality at the club but he can only play with two central defenders.

‘The manager has to make the choice but he is lucky because he only has good players. It will be hard for him to make that choice but that is what we’re here for and why we are working hard.’

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