Whilst United have been finalising a deal for new signing Wilfied Zaha, United have also been extending their interest in 18 year old French centre half, Kurt Zouma. With just 18 months left on his current deal, the young Saint Etienne defender has been attracting interest from around Europe and has been watched on a number of occasions by Martin Ferguson in recent months.
A strong, bulky centre half, Zouma has made 10 appearances so far this season, limited due to injury, and is a formidable presence in Ligue 1.
Despite his tender age, he has been a solid performer in France’s first division who possesses a potent mix of strength, speed and intelligence on the pitch. He positions himself well in the face of oncoming attacks and shows authority among his peers. He is good with the ball at his feet and, like any young player, isn’t adverse to the odd foray up the field.
Zouma is rated very highly in French and is tipped to be a future international. Having made such an impact at such a young age, there is no reason why he should not fulfil this potential. If he is to develop into a top quality centre half, he needs to be more authoritative on the ground and stronger in the tackle. His potential must also be tempered by the risks injuries pose to a youngsters development, as he is already learning at the moment, and it is important he beds in slowly to top-flight football if he’s not to hinder his progress in later years (Jack Wilshere, take note).
Whereas Sir Alex likes is known to bring young players slowly into the side by playing them slightly out of position (Smalling, Cleverley, Welbeck), Zouma has played solely at centre half for Saint Etienne this season and seems by far best suited to that position.
Manchester United are in need of a centre back. It is clear that Zouma could not fill a hole left by either Ferdinand or Vidic this summer but in 18- 24 months he could certainly formed a pivotal part of our squad. Alongside the likes of Evans, Smalling and Jones, Zouma could prove to be the fourth centre back that we could well be lacking this time next year if we fail to act in the next few transfer windows.
United are in search of a centre half this summer in order to plug the whole left by Rio and Nemanja’s declining influence but Zouma is too young for our first team at the moment and purchasing the youngster now would represent a gamble on Fergie’s behalf. If he wants to risk some money somewhere, he might be better learning how to play poker online. With that in mind, any deal to buy Zouma would see him go out on loan for first team action elsewhere, as happened with Smalling and Zaha, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see him go back to Saint Etienne on loan if he were to be signed. Nonetheless, at a cost of around £8 million, he would recognise a significant investment which would come with the associated risk of his age and inexperience. Sir Alex has tended to favour buying English youngsters due to their cultural familiarity with England and for that reason, he may pass the opportunity up in favour of a more experienced foreign import.
Check out Frenchy’s assessment of Zouma here- Are you Rio in Disguise?