Chelsea, the reigning Premier League champions, struggled to pursue their summer transfer targets as they missed out on Romelu Lukaku and Virgil Van Dijk – two of the prime preferences of boss Antonio Conte.

The Blues, however, are slowly back in business and concluded deals for German centre back Antonio Rudiger from Serie A heavyweights AS Roma, midfielder Tiemoue Bakayoko from Ligue 1 champions Monaco along with custodian Willy Caballero who was released by Manchester City upon expiration of his contract.

Chelsea, meanwhile, were forced to sell five of their prodigies failing to provide them enough game-time at senior level, but if reports from French outlet L’Equipe are believed to be true, young centre back Kurt Zouma is close to sign a new two-year deal before completing a loan move to Premier League counterparts Stoke City for regular football.

The 22-year old Frenchman was brought in for £12 mil from Ligue 1 outfit Saint-Etienne back in 2014. He showed signs of excellence despite limited opportunities and kept on breaking into Chelsea’s star-studded first team squad under the then boss Jose Mourinho. His impressive outings earned him senior international call-ups for his country, however, his progress hit a massive blow when the young defender suffered an unfortunate anterior cruciate ligament injury midway of 2015-16 campaign.

Zouma took time to recover from such a serious blow and played mostly with the reserves last season to regain full fitness. Conte, meanwhile, upturned Chelsea’s fortune after shifting to a ‘back three’ formation and the likes of Gary Cahill, David Luiz and Cesar Azpilicueta looked settled in three-man back-line. The arrival of Rudiger has further jeopardized Zouma’s first team opportunities and he now needs to play regularly in order to re-establish himself as a first-team option.

The two-time Premier League champion is close to join the Potters who reportedly failed to make Bruno Martins Indi’s move permanent from Porto. The Dutchman is set to join their league rivals Crystal Palace, thus a move for Kurt Zouma is necessity for the Stoke boss Mark Hughes too who has an uphill task to get closer to a European place following a disappointing 2016-17 Premier League season.

Photo by joshjdss

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