Paul Merson has suggested that the decision from Chelsea to sell Kurt Zouma this summer without signing a replacement may end up costing them, writes the Chelsea Chronicle.
Zouma, 26, ended his seven-year stay at Stamford Bridge this summer after completing a £29.8million permanent transfer to London rivals West Ham.
The Frenchman is a commanding centre-back that was a very popular part of the Blues squad and he provided cover for manager Thomas Tuchel at the back.
His exit leaves Andreas Christensen, Thiago Silva, Cesar Azpilicueta and Antonio Rudiger as the options from last year’s squad to play in the back-three. In addition, defender Reece James can slot in as a centre-half, too.
Chelsea boss Tuchel has introduced academy graduate Trevoh Chalobah to the senior group this year, so in theory he does replace the Zouma void.
However, Sky Sports pundit Merson suggests Chelsea may live to regret not bringing in a proven centre-back.
The Blues were linked with Sevilla defender Joules Kounde right up until deadline day, but they failed to get him to Stamford Bridge.
“They have got cover [at centre-back], but if the players have got to play nine-12 games in a season all in one hit, it’s going to be a lot more difficult,” Merson said.
“Surely they’d have let Zouma go on the strength of getting [Joules Kounde] in. Otherwise, they’re thinking [Trevoh] Chalobah will be very good.
“It’s going to be hard because when we get into the nitty-gritty of the Champions League and winning the Premier League, I think Zouma will be missed.”
First of all, Zouma was a great servant during his time in West London.
He’s a quality powerhouse defender that deserves regular minutes, which is why his move to West Ham made sense and he’s likely to be a big success there.
However, 22-year-old upcoming star Chalobah can fill his shoes.
The Englishman was superb when thrown into the deep end at the start of the season by Tuchel and he should only improve throughout the year training alongside top-class defenders.
If he’s needed later down the line at the business end of the campaign, he’ll be ready to fill in.