Liverpool, there is no doubt, are in the market for a new centre-back this summer. Joel Matip and Dejan Lovren have done little wrong this season, but both are prone to injury and have missed numerous games. Ragnar Klavan and Lucas Leiva, who have deputised, are both ageing and perhaps on the way out, whilst Mamadou Sakho has no future with the Reds.
Top of Liverpool’s list is Virgil van Dijk, a player who would tread a well-trodden path to Anfield from Southampton should he makes the move, but every other top team in the country is in for him too. With Chelsea and Manchester City in particular able to offer larger wages, there is no guarantee Liverpool will be able to sign him even if they make the Champions League.
Kostas Manolas, Kalidou Koulibaly and Jose Gimenez have all been linked by various news outlets, but the perfect alternative to Van Dijk – should it be needed – lies a little closer to home.
Kurt Zouma, the French international who currently plays for Chelsea, emerged a couple of seasons ago, but then had a big injury. He has since returned, but is struggling for game time, with Cesar Azpilicuata, David Luiz, Gary Cahill, John Terry and Nathan Ake providing major competition. It might not be unrealistic for Liverpool to prise him away, with the promise of regular football.
Zouma is the ideal player for Liverpool for so many reasons.
Firstly, he has Premier League experience, and would take no time to settle. Manolas, Koulibaly and Gimenez would all require time to adjust to life in England; even Van Dijk would need time because he has never played for as big a club as Liverpool before – just look at the struggle of Dejan Lovren in his first season with the Reds. Zouma has played for a title-winning side, and would slot straight in.
Zouma cannot get in the side at Chelsea, and might be ready for a change. Off the back of such a long injury layoff, a change of scenery could well be beneficial, and moving to a team likely to be in the Champions League could be an attractive proposition. He would instantly become a regular for one of the biggest teams in the country, having spent much of this campaign sat on the bench.
The Frenchman speaks English already, and despite being just 22, is a ready-made star. He is a big, strong player, and is capable of a high quality of passing out from the back, as Liverpool require. In almost every way, he would be the perfect partner for Joel Matip, and could offer defensive stability for Liverpool for the next ten years at least.
Zouma would benefit too from working with Jurgen Klopp. The German transformed Mats Hummels into a genuine world star when in charge of Borussia Dortmund, and a similar effect could be achieved here.
Hummel’s career with Borussia Dortmund coincided with Klopp’s stint at the club, and he became one of the best defenders in the world, later rejoining Bayern Munich. Kurt Zouma has the potential to become a player of the same level.
The only question is whether Chelsea would be willing to sell him, but a large enough offer would surely make them consider it. If Van Dijk would cost £50 million, then Zouma would certainly be allowed to go for a little less: even paying the same for him would represent decent value in the current market.
Liverpool are prepared to spend this summer, and a move for Kurt Zouma would be more than worthwhile. Chelsea’s forgotten man would have the chance to become a fans favourite for the Reds, and the move would kick-start his stalling career.