After a couple of seasons of bizarre, expensive and ultimately poor business in the transfer market, Everton seemingly made up for lost time last summer.
As well as Richarlison, Bernard and Lucas Digne becoming key figures on the left, loanees André Gomes and Kurt Zouma have impressed too. And when the current campaign comes to an end the French centre-back, with a transfer ban hanging over his parent club Chelsea, will have a decision to make over his future.
“I don’t know yet… we have five more games to play and then we will see,” Zouma said when asked about his future recently.
“I am very happy. My aim was to come and play and improve myself and I think I have done here. I hope we will finish the season very high.”
Everton boss Marco Silva would certainly like to keep him and a longer stay at Goodison Park may work for all parties.
Phil Jagielka will turn 37 years old next August and with Yerry Mina struggling to settle in, the Toffees desperately need to keep the centre-backs who have impressed this term.
Zouma’s pace also blends well with Michael Keane’s lack of it. The England international has his qualities but a quick turning circle isn’t one of them. Acceleration is one of the many things Zouma has in his armoury and defensive partnerships are built on one centre-back complementing the other.
Perhaps related to their relative speeds, Zouma is comfortable stepping up whereas Keane prefers backing off.
The Chelsea loanee regains possession in the middle third 2.2 times per game on average and 2.91 in his defensive third. For Keane, these figures are 1.41 and 3.27 respectively. Zouma can cover the space in front of the defensive line; Keane will more naturally defend the area behind it.
There’s also the uncertainty of what awaits Zouma back at Chelsea. We’ve learned recently, through Danny Drinkwater, that Maurizio Sarri is not shy about telling players they don’t fit into his plans. The Italian doesn’t seem to be the type of manager to give players a token run out to try and prove themselves.
With David Luiz, Antonio Rüdiger, Andreas Christensen, Ethan Ampadu, and Gary Cahill, Chelsea also have a good depth of centre-backs. Cahill will leave this summer, which eliminates one rival, but Zouma wouldn’t be a guaranteed starter. Would the Frenchman be happy with that? It’s hard to say.
He is, however, by all accounts, comfortable at Everton.
“They [Gomes and Zouma] are happy here,” Silva has said. “That is a good sign. That means they are performing, they are enjoying, they are helping us also. We are happy with them, that is true, and it is up to us to do what we shall do to try and keep them.”
It seems best for both Zouma and Everton for the two to make their relationship permanent.