Kurt Zouma appears to be settling in well at Chelsea, although he is having problems convincing his team-mates of his real age…
Jose Mourinho swooped for the talented France Under-21 international in January, but allowed him to remain at Saint Etienne for the second half of the season. The youngster went on to make a dozen league appearances during this spell, taking his experience to 51 Ligue matches in total, during which he has scored four goals.
Zouma arrived at Stamford Bridge ahead of the current season, and was given a vote of confidence when he was handed the number 5 shirt. Although the defender has yet to make his debut for the Blues, he appears to be settling in well with his new team-mates, although the 6ft 3in ace is finding it difficult to convince them that he is only 19!
“Diego Costa is very, very crazy. Branislav Ivanovic makes a lot of jokes too,” he told L’Equipe. “Afterwards the group laugh a little about my age because, well, I’m a big man for 19-years-old. Even the coach when we were going for the blood test jokingly said, ‘Here, now we’ll see if you lied about your age’. But really they’re cool, easy.”
Such is the quality of Mourinho’s squad, there is plenty of competition for the two central defensive positions which are usually occupied by England international Gary Cahill and club legend and captain John Terry. However, Ivanovic can also operate in the heart of the back four, whilst Nathan Ake, 19, already has Premier League experience.
Zouma, therefore, accepts he has to be patient if he is to be given his chance in the Chelsea side. And this is something he is more than willing to do, as he looks to copy the likes of Real Madrid starlet Raphael Varane, and Manchester City’s recent £24million signing Eliaquim Mangala, into the France national side ahead of Euro 2016.
“When I was at Saint-Etienne and I didn’t play, I immediately got upset,” added Zouma. “But I learnt. Now there are senior players, stars in my position, and they are doing a great job. I take my time. I am learning besides those defenders. I know my time will come. I am using Varane and (Eliaquim) Mangala as role models. Nowadays they are in the French team and I hope to join them. Euro 2016 is an objective I set to myself.”
Chelsea fans, you must be impressed by Zouma’s attitude? And how does he compare to Ake, your other teenage defender? Let us know your thoughts by joining the discussion!