Stoke City may have gotten themselves relegated this season, but in terms of personal development, Kurt Zouma had himself a pretty good year on loan in the Potteries. He missed just four league games all season — two of which were against Chelsea, for which he was ineligible — and was third on the team in terms of minutes played (behind only Joe Allen and Jack Butland). He saved one of his best performances for last, even, giving Cheslea an outside chance at the top four by holding Liverpool to a goalless draw in late April.
But Zouma’s next step is unknown. Could he be the next loanee to be successfully re-integrated into the squad, be that under Maurizio Sarri or Antonio Conte or whoever else gets the job for next season? Or does he need more experience at the top level? Is being a good defender on a relegated team a good pathway into the Chelsea first team, or is he still continuing to make the same mistakes he showed during his time at the Bridge, before his injury? At least he seems to have put that ghastly knee ligament tear firmly behind him.
If Chelsea opt for the latter, interest is already gathering for the 23-year-old. According to Italian newspaper La Nazione (via Inside Futbol), Fiorentina are among the first to register an intent to take him on loan for next season.
We don’t have to go back too far to remember a loan-incident between the Blues and the Purples that left a sour taste in everyone’s mouth, and that was long before Mohamed Salah turned out to be as good as he is now. Back then, it was just a long, drawn-out saga that began with Salah refusing to extend his season-long loan deal with Fiorentina, and ended in the Serie A-side taking Chelsea to court and seeking reparations. Thankfully common sense prevailed and Chelsea did not have to pay a dime.
Perhaps we can now forgive and forget all that drama. Or just choose one of the many other options that are likely to materialize if Zouma is indeed available and willing to go on loan again.