Thibaut Courtois believes Chelsea team-mate Kurt Zouma has all the necessary attributes to become one of the best defenders in world football, and has tipped his fellow Stamford Bridge star to forge a hugely successful professional career.
The Blues' Belgian goalkeeper heaped praise on the France U21 international in a recent interview with RMC Sport, following a series of impressive performances from the 20-year-old in Jose Mourinho's team.
Zouma was called into the starting XI for big Premier League games against Manchester City and Liverpool, deputising for Gary Cahill to partner club captain John Terry at the heart of Chelsea's back line.
He's even been deployed in an unfamiliar defensive midfield role while Nemanja Matic served a two-game suspension following his red card in the recent home encounter with Burnley, and earned rave reviews for his mature display against Tottenham Hotspur in the Capital One Cup final victory at Wembley.
Mourinho has since played down talk of the former Saint Etienne man moving further up the pitch on a permanent basis by reiterating that Zouma is primarily a centre-back, and Courtois thinks that in that position he has the potential to reach the very top of the game.
"Zouma has a lot of talent. He is strong. He has a truly exceptional relaxation. He is incredibly tall, he plays well with the feet," explained the former Atletico Madrid loanee.
"He will further grow and improve. I think he can become one of the best defenders in the world if he continues like this. He really is a very good player."
Zouma has made 18 appearances in all competitions for Chelsea in 2014/15, securing more game-time than perhaps even he was expecting during his first full season in west London.
"I think he [Kurt Zouma] can become one of the best defenders in the world if he continues like this," - Thibaut Courtois
However, it's just reward for the positive impression the Frenchman has made on Mourinho, even drawing comparisons with Blues fans' favourite Marcel Desailly.
The burgeoning young talent was quick to play down suggestions of similarities between himself and the World Cup winner after insisting in an interview with the London Evening Standard that it's far too early in his career to be likened to such a legend, but he did welcome praise from his Portuguese manager.
Mourinho has previously stated his reluctance to throw some of his other bright up-and-coming stars of the future straight into the senior fold due to the pressures that come with challenging for the Premier League title.
He's not had those kinds of reservations with Zouma, though, highlighting just how much he's rated by everyone at the club. Chelsea fans will be understandably excited to see what the stopper has to offer in the future.
Does Kurt Zouma have what it takes to become one of the world's best defenders? Is Thibaut Courtois putting too much pressure on his young shoulders, or is it already clear he's going right to the top? Share your thoughts below…
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