French youth international Zouma has made 17 appearances for the West London club this term, progressing from reserve choice in meaningless games to key first-team starter. After prising the role away from Gary Cahill following some questionable errors by the England international, the 20-year-old has impressed in high-intensity ties with Manchester City and Liverpool, and he won his first silverware with the Blues on Sunday, playing the full 90 minutes of the League Cup Final victory over Spurs.
It was this game that proved his ability and versatility, playing the full game in a defensive midfield position, and drawing comparisons with Blues legend Marcel Desailly. Zouma put in a strong performance in an unnatural role, and suggested that he could fulfil that position in the future if needed.
It is the second time Zouma has played in a different position this term, having occasionally filled in at right-back, or as right sided centre-back in a back-three. Whilst not as attacking as the likes of Branislav Ivanovic, his natural defensive instincts make him a top level defender, and there is no doubt he will continue to develop due to his young age.
Highly regarded at Stamford Bridge, even before his debut, all people associtated with the club are delighted that the youngster is making a name for himself in the first-team. Prior to the start of the campaign there was no guessing as to whether Zouma would be sent out on loan to gain experience, but his growth into the first-team has now been heralded as the most important part of the Blues season by club favourite Nevin.
Speaking to the official Chelsea website, the ex-Scotland international said: “In the shorter term the emergence of Kurt Zouma may be the most important thing [of the season].
“Without him I think we looked in some danger at the back if we had more than one injury. Suddenly we have an extra centre-back, an extra right-back and an extra sitting midfielder all rolled into one player!”
The advantages of Zouma’s emergence have been well documented now, and his role in midfield at Wembley added another arrow to his quiver. There is no doubt that his long term future at Stamford Bridge will reside as John Terry’s successor in central defence, but, right now, the youngster might just be the Blues' most valuable player.