Since returning to action from an ACL tear that kept him out for the better part of a year, Kurt Zouma has looked rusty and not quite himself. He remains strong and agile, but he seems to have taken a step back in terms of positioning, comfort on the ball, and just general game sense.
Some of that is to be expected after all that time away from match action — ACL injuries can take up to two years to fully recover from — but it also makes it imperative that he play as much as possible, which is not something that can be readily afforded to him by a team vying for the Double. Given Chelsea’s settled starting lineup, it’s wholly unsurprising that Zouma has been limited to just about 500 minutes of gametime with the first-team. Ninety of those minutes came against Watford on Monday, to generally mixed reviews, to put it mildly.
As has been rumored before, given Chelsea’s incoming summer signings and loan returnees, Zouma could be the low-man on the totem pole when it comes to deciding next season’s squad. A loan move away to fully rehab the knee and get back to his previous level might not be the worst idea. And there would be no shortage of takers either. Two such teams who have emerged recently are Valencia and Inter Milan, while Lazio had been rumored several times before as well.
Spain's Cadena SER claims that Valencia want to bring in the Frenchman on a loan deal. The club currently rank 12th in La Liga after battling against relegation for most of the season, and they are keen on adding two players to reinforce their defence for the 2017-18 term.
Meanwhile in Italy, Tuttosport (via Football Italia) report that Inter Milan are interested in the 22-year-old. They had been trying to get a deal on a familiar name, Roma's Antonio Rudiger, but the chances of that deal happening are slim. With that in mind, Inter are now looking at Zouma, but more likely as a permanent switch rather than just a loan.
Though Zouma has not quite fit into Conte's three-man back line just yet, he remains a highly promising player (if for nothing else than his physical attributes) who needs game-time to sharpen his game-reading skills. A loan to another top-flight European side might be just what he needs to get back on course for his Chelsea career.