Chelsea have just finalized their first signing of the January window, acquiring Nemanja Matic from Benfica. Already we're hearing the Blue strongly linked to another potential signing though, this one to see French center back Kurt Zouma tie his future to Stamford Bridge. The rumored move would see the Blues sign the player, while likely loaning him back to St. Etienne for the remainder of the season. With that quick recap out of the way, let's take a look at why Chelsea are rumored to be interested.
Zouma stands 6'3" tall, and is an gifted athlete as well. He's stronger than most 19-year olds, has surprising speed and quickness, and seems to get off the ground very well. It's not hard to picture why Chelsea would show interest, just based on that sort of future potential alone.
Being an exceptional athlete doesn't always translate into playing ability though, and many youngsters tend to struggle when they make a move to a league where that athleticism alone won't cover for their mistakes. This may be a viable concern with Zouma, though he's shown flashes of potential greatness and generally looks fantastic when he keeps things simple.
With Zouma, you're never likely to get the sort of dynamic passing and shooting that we see with David Luiz. Gary Cahill would be a far more apt comparison in terms of style, a no-nonsense defender that is at his best when he doesn't take too many risks. He's shown a decent feel for when to make a challenge for the ball, though he's still a bit overzealous on occasion*. He's also very good in the air for such a young player, and he's been improving his decision making about when to simply clear a ball as opposed to attempting to control it.
*Watch this at your own discretion, it isn't pretty
Like most young defenders, Zouma could stand to read the game a little faster. He's capable of using his excellent athleticism to make up for mistakes in reading the game in France, but there will be a learning curve involved with a move to a more competitive league. Whether or not he successfully makes that leap will determine whether he becomes an elite defender, but he's already a good enough player that he'd be semi-useful depth at worst.
It's hard to argue against a move for a player like Zouma at this point, especially if there isn't a pressing need to start him immediately. He's the sort of player that would really benefit from training alongside some top quality attacking options, and could easily develop into one of the top center backs in Europe. We have several high quality center back prospects already, but adding to that group only increases the odds that we'll find our eventual replacement for John Terry from within.