In Focus: Chelsea decision to loan Zouma out casts doubts over his future

According to reports in The Telegraph, Chelsea are ready to send centre-back Kurt Zouma out on loan in order to help him to reignite his Blues career.

What’s the word, then?

Well, Chelsea manager Antonio Conte still believes that the France international has a big part to play for the Premier League leaders in the future, but he has struggled to break into the first team after being on the sidelines for almost a year with a cruciate knee ligament injury.

With the trio of Gary Cahill, David Luiz and Cesar Azpilicueta becoming regulars in the back-three, there haven’t been many opportunities for Zouma since he was available for selection again in January.

It is hoped that sending him out temporarily to get regular game time will aid his recovery and get him back to the form he was showing before he suffered the injury.

How has he done on his return?

He has looked rusty, which is to be expected after so long out.

The 22-year-old has made 11 appearances in all competitions – with seven of those coming in the Premier League and four in the FA Cup – but he was taken off at half-time in the 2-1 win against Manchester City at Stamford Bridge last month when Antonio Conte decided to alter his system.

Is it possible he could leave permanently?

In a word, yes.

With the west London outfit already having a settled back-three, targeting a £50m move for in-demand Southampton centre-back Virgil van Dijk and with Nathan Ake and Andreas Christensen looking to stake their claim for a spot in the first team too, Zouma’s future is certainly in doubt.

What’s the verdict, then?

Conte certainly has some big decisions to make this summer when it comes to his central defensive options and while loaning out Zouma makes a lot of sense, it could actually put his long-term future at the club into doubt.

Should Van Dijk join and impress and Ake and Christensen make their mark too, it could leave Zouma sixth or seventh in the pecking order.