Another day, another story and this time it's an interview published by the generally reliable Matt Law, bearer of all news Chelsea, unofficial speaker of the board, and generally likeable person. The Telegraph journalist has provided us with some pretty decent Kurt Zouma quotes about the defender’s current life at his loan destination Stoke City, his role in their rough battle against relegation, and generally about his future, among other things.
“When I was at Chelsea, we were playing for the title, so the situation here is different. [...] Maybe it is harder because you don’t want to get relegated, so maybe it is a bit harder. The thing is we need to pick up points and we are under pressure, but now everybody is calm, we know that with the quality we have that if we play well like we have done, then we are going to get some points and win games.”
“Mentally you have to be strong. If you win a game you can be out of the bottom three and if you lose you can be down there again because it’s so tight. It’s stressful, but we are confident and we need to keep our confidence high – don’t be too stressed and scared to play. It’s not easy, but we have to play and we want to give everything. We need points at the moment.”
Zouma has been a nailed on starter for Stoke this season, having accumulated a total of 2,556 minutes across 3 competitions (2,316 of them coming in the Premier League), as well as scoring 1 goal. In this respect, the season's already been a success for the French defender as he's played the full 90 in every of Stoke's games except the two against parent club Chelsea and one against West Ham.
Comparatively, Kurt has already drawn level with his current Chelsea best of about 2,600 minutes during the less successful 2015-16 season, a period which involved a manager who tended to frequently utilize young Zouma in multiple positions at the time. It was obvious that after coming back from a serious injury such as his ACL tear, in combination with accumulating merely 600 minutes last season, there was a definite need for a proper, productive loan spell; and Zouma seems to have already made the best of it with several games left.
While solely concentrating on the objective that lies ahead of him, 'Happy' has nevertheless already set his sights on succeeding at Chelsea. His plan is to return to Cobham at the end of the season and become a starter.
“My target is to go back to Chelsea, but first do it right here. I don’t want the team to go down. Like the other players, we all have to show the fans we want to stay up. There is no difference to me and the other players, we all have to fight to stay up.”
“After that I hope to go back to Chelsea and play. They gave me a chance to go on loan and I spoke with the manager [Antonio Conte], who agreed with that and they helped me a lot from my injury and to find a club where I can play all the time. Everyone knows I am here for one year and then I’ll go back.”
As it is generally becoming the case, Zouma mentions the example of fellow defender Andreas Christensen, poster boy of the 'have a good loan and consequently become a starter' approach. He compares his own situation to that of the young Dane's, thus underlining the latter's status as a success of the loan system who came back a better player after a longer period away from Stamford Bridge.
“Christensen is a good example because he went on loan and played in Germany, and he’s come back and he’s a big part of the team now,”
“It’s a bit different for me because I had a bad injury and I used to be in the first team before that, so now I want to be back fit and have game time, and then I will go back to Chelsea to go and play.”
“I want to play.”
-Kurt Zouma; source: The Telegraph
Can't wait to have you back, Happy!