Marcel Brands missed a trick by failing to sign Chelsea defender Kurt Zouma this summer after being informed the Frenchman would cost at least £40.3million.
According to L’Equipe, via Sport Witness, Everton and Tottenham Hotspur each approached Chelsea to discuss Zouma’s future at Stamford Bridge this summer, only to see their efforts pushed back by the south west London outfit.
Everton had remained keen admirers of the centre-half from Zouma’s time at Goodison Park on loan under Marco Silva, for whom he featured 36 times for across all competitions during the 2018/19 campaign.
Jose Mourinho presented Spurs as potential competition in any race for the defender’s services, having signed Zouma for Chelsea in 2014 during his time in charge of the Blues.
Zouma had seen his future under Frank Lampard come under threat during the off-season, despite starting 25 of his 28 Premier League appearances last season, as the 26-year-old still needed to leave his mark under the Premier League icon with Thiago Silva joining Antonio Rudiger, Andreas Christensen and Fikayo Tomori in waiting in the wings.
The heightened competition for places ensured Zouma did not look unfavourably on a potential move away from Stamford Bridge, with a change in scenery a chance to start over.
But Chelsea insisted they would only sell the 6 ft 2 titan if they received an offer worth at least €45m (£40.3m), likely ending all interest from Everton or Tottenham who closed out the market with the £20m capture of Norwich City’s Ben Godfrey and £11m deal for Swansea City’s Joe Rodon respectively.
Zouma has since left the mark he needed to make at Stamford Bridge, with it noted the Lyon-born enforcer has won Lampard over with his performances during the last few months that have featured more interceptions (9), clearances (36), aerial duels won (23) and total passes (511) than any other central Chelsea defender, per WhoScored.
While Everton would have been obliged to pay double what Norwich accepted for Godfrey, Toffees Director of Football Brands missed a trick by not securing a deal with Chelsea for Zouma this summer instead.
Godfrey has struggled to establish himself against competition for places from Michael Keane and Yerry Mina, with the former Canaries prospect earning his sole Premier League start to date at right-back after coming off the bench to make his debut by replacing the injured Seamus Coleman.
Zouma was able to secure a starting role at Goodison Park by the fourth fixture of the 18/19 league season, and went on to open a further 28 matches from a possible 32.
His efforts for Chelsea this term would likely also have been enough to displace Keane or Mina, having registered more clearances than both Keane (25) and Mina (28), won more aerial duels than the England (14) and Colombia (20) internationals and played more passes than Mina (479).
Zouma’s performances have also secured Lampard’s backing despite criticism from Michael Owen, who suggested the Frenchman’s performance against Sevilla in the Champions League last month filled him with fear.
“Zouma next to him [Silva] fills you with a bit of fear,” Owen told BT Sport, via quotes by the Metro. “But as soon as you see the ball go into Silva you relax and that’s what the whole team will be feeling.
“As soon as he is in possession or is part of the team, he spreads that confidence to everybody.”
AND in other news, Carlo Ancelotti is set for a major £18m boost over Everton’s “courageous” dynamo.