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Chelsea slap £25.6m price tag on defender wanted by Mourinho – Should Tuchel sell him?

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AS Roma want Chelsea defender Kurt Zouma

According to a report by RMC (h/t Metro), AS Roma are interested in Chelsea defender Kurt Zouma, with the Blues slapping a £25.6million price tag on the Frenchman. The Italian side prefers a loan move with an option to buy, but Thomas Tuchel’s Blues would only be willing to sanction a permanent transfer.

The report also says that Jose Mourinho will have ample funds to spend in the summer. Zouma joined Stamford Bridge all the way back in 2014 from St-Etienne. After two loan spells in England at Stoke City and Everton, the French defender became an important squad member at Chelsea. But let’s find out if Tuchel is right in trying to offload Zouma.

Chelsea need centre-backs

The centre-back situation at Chelsea isn’t ideal. They did win the UEFA Champions League last year, but they have to think about the next season and the future. Thiago Silva, while impressing under both Frank Lampard and Thomas Tuchel, is in the twilight of his footballing career as he turns 37 this September.

Chelsea place considerable price tag on Kurt Zouma amid AS Roma transfer interest.
Chelsea place considerable price tag on Kurt Zouma amid AS Roma transfer interest. (GETTY Images)

Apart from him, a number of centre-backs can leave the club next year if they don’t renew their current deals. According to The Athletic (Subscription Required), Antonio Rudiger, Andreas Christensen, and 31-year-old Cesar Azpilicueta are in the final year of their Chelsea deals that expire in the summer of 2022.

Ethan Ampadu, Jake Clarke-Salter, and Malang Sarr continue to be left out of the first-team action at Chelsea. The 20-year-old Welsh international was at Sheffield United last season. Like Malang Sarr, who was loaned out to Porto last campaign and has been linked with a move to Fenerbahce, Ampadu has no league starts for Chelsea so far.

American international Miazga does have two league appearances to his name for the Blues, but both of them came in April 2016. With their experience and age, it is unrealistic that they would be thrown into the starting XI anytime soon under Tuchel. Them being loaned out was itself a signal that they were not in the club’s immediate plans.

Chelsea need Kurt Zouma to offer competition to their main centre-backs and future-proof their defence.
Chelsea need Kurt Zouma (R) to offer competition to their main centre-backs and future-proof their defence. (GETTY Images)

Keeping Zouma makes sense for Chelsea

In light of this, Zouma becomes an important player. The Frenchman has been at the club for 7 years, making 150 appearances for the club under top-quality managers. He was also important last season, where he made 36 appearances in all competitions for the club – a stat that clearly underlines his utility.

Chelsea also plays a system with three centre-backs, which immediately puts a strain on their defensive depth. Cesar Azpilicueta has filled in at centre-back a lot of times but with Reece James playing as a right-back without any quality back-up, the Spaniard could be required to deputize for the young Englishman at times.

And in situations like that, Tuchel would find Zouma useful. The 26-year-old is arguably in the peak years of his career and a club like Chelsea, who won the UEFA Champions League last year and want to fight for the league title this season, should have a number of quality players in each position on the pitch.

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Potentially losing Zouma to Roma without a replacement can sting Tuchel in the short as well as long term. The aforementioned fee, though a considerable amount, is something that Marina Granovskaia should resist in order to make sure the Blues have strength in depth at the back this season.

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