Kurt Zouma is close to joining West Ham in a move that could accelerate Chelsea’s pursuit of Jules Kounde, according to reports.
It is believed that Zouma’s departure would trigger an aggressive pursuit for fellow French centre-back Kounde of Sevilla, whom the Blues have been linked with throughout the summer.
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Four years Zouma’s junior, Kounde would be a direct, younger replacement for his compatriot, adding to Thomas Tuchel’s options as part of a stubborn back-three system that has been near-watertight since the German’s arrival in January.
Signed during Jose Mourinho’s second reign at the club, Zouma impressed in his debut season at Stamford Bridge and was deployed to great effect as a holding midfielder in the 2-0 Carabao Cup final victory over rivals Tottenham Hotspur at Wembley.
The Frenchman featured regularly before a knee injury against Manchester United ruled him out for six months, requiring surgery and stalling his career at the club.
Loan moves to Stoke and Everton preceded a return to regular game-time and form under Frank Lampard, but Zouma has struggled for minutes under Tuchel.
The German has frequently favoured Andreas Christensen, Antonio Rudiger, Thiago Silva and Cesar Azpilicueta in his backline, with the emergence of Trevoh Chalobah this season only serving to push Zouma further down the pecking order.
Another potential sale and arrival would mark the continuation of a typically manic transfer window at Stamford Bridge.
The outlay on the Belgian has been offset by a string of player sales totalling over £70m, several of whom are promising English youngsters.
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Source: Euro Sports