Kurt Zouma is closing in on a cross-capital switch from Chelsea to West Ham which will see the centre back swap west for east and remaining in Premier League.
The Hammers and the Blues are both two wins from two games to start the campaign but Zouma appears to be the odd man out in the Chelsea defence for Thomas Tuchel, who is willing to let the 26-year-old seek pastures new.
The German head coach has settled on Cesar Azpilicueta, Antonio Rudiger, Andreas Christensen and Thiago Silva as his senior players for his back three formation, with Trevoh Chalobah and Reece James also able to play in the middle of his preferred formation.
Zouma, who has been with Chelsea since 2019 when he joined from St Etienne, has made more than 150 appearances for the club while also having loan spells away at Stoke City and Everton.
He started only eight times under Tuchel after the former Paris St Germain head coach replaced Frank Lampard at the helm in SW6 and his future has looked away from west London for some time.
Now West Ham, who are light at centre back, have swooped in and are set to seal a £25million deal that will see Zouma become the club’s highest earner and bolster their backline, looking to build on a successful 2020/21 season when the Hammers secured European football.
In a market where it has been tough to sell players this summer, Chelsea have seemed to find it much easier than others to get deals done as they have desperately needed to cut down their very bloated squad – the Blues had 42 players report to a pre-season training session earlier this month at Cobham.
Especially in defence, Chelsea have been busy with their sales and have raised nearly £70million from getting players off of their books. Considering they spent £97.5million on Romelu Lukaku, just the defensive sales have cancelled out around 70% of their outlay on the Belgian striker.
Zouma looks set to cost the Hammers £25million, which is the same figure the club sold Fikayo Tomori to AC Milan for in the early stages of the window following a successful six-month loan spell at the San Siro.
Another centre back, Marc Guehi, also departed Chelsea earlier this summer as Crystal Palace shelled out a reported £18million to take the academy graduate to south east London.
Another defender, Davide Zappacosta, has left west London permanently as he returned to his homeland in Italy to join Atalanta for around £8million. Chelsea also extracted £5million from Southampton for highly-rated right back Tino Livramento, though the Blues were very keen to keep him in the capital.
Chelsea desperately needed to trim down their squad this summer and they have managed to do so. There are some that are still around, the likes of Danny Drinkwater, Ross Barkley and Tiemoue Bakayoko for example, who haven’t even got a squad number for the season.
They could all still move on between now and August 31 when the transfer window “slams shut” for a few months.
But with Chelsea moving on a few of their defenders and now Zouma set to join them imminently, it has freed up the Blues to make a run at long-term target Jules Kounde of Sevilla this summer.
He won’t come cheap but with the money that Chelsea have freed up on sales so far this summer across their squad, it won’t hit the coffers as hard as it might have done despite the signing of Lukaku on a club-record deal.
Source by Football London