Kurt Zouma's career has not gone as expected.
The Frenchman made his debut for Saint-Etienne at the age of 16, and made the move to Chelsea just three years later.
After a couple of years in and out of the team at the club, he was shipped out on loan to relegation battlers Stoke City.
He has played 30 times so far in the league this season and has been one of the bright spots in an otherwise poor season for The Potters, but Zouma insists he is not thinking about his Chelsea future.
“I'm happy with my loan move, of course,” Zouma told Standard Sport after Stoke’s draw with West Ham. “I came here to play and I did it.
“I'm just focused on my team and try and keep them in the Premier League and win games - that's the most important thing. That's the most that I want. It doesn't matter about the rest at the moment."
PETER CROUCH SPEAKS ABOUT ZOUMA
Given Chelsea's struggles this year, it has been suggested that Zouma will be able to challenge for a regular first team spot next year.
Stoke teammate Peter Crouch certainly thinks so.
In fact, based on what he has seen from Zouma in games and in training, Crouch is adamant that the 23-year-old will be Chelsea and France's first choice defender in the future.
"Kurt Zouma has impressed me frequently this season and he did so again on Monday when he was interviewed after the game at West Ham," Crouch wrote in his column for the Daily Mail.
"I’m convinced he will go on to be Chelsea and France’s first choice central defender.
"Everything you would want from a defender, he has got. Kurt is quick, strong, good on the ball and his leap is absolutely ridiculous. We do tests in the gym to measure your spring and he can get so high his head touches the ceiling.
"Really, he can be anything he wants to be. There was a period when we conceded a lot of goals that he found tough but he came through it and picked up the gears again. I can see him doing that plenty more in the future."
Wow. That's a big claim. But it's one that could turn out to be true.
No one should know better than Crouch, who has had the fortune of watching him play day in, day out in training.
Zouma clearly has the traits to be a world-class defender in the future. As Crouch noted, his physical attributes are plain to see, which makes him stand out from other defenders.
At 23 years old, time is still on his side. Zouma's stint at Stoke could well have prepared him for bigger and better things in the future.
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