Paul Merson feels Chelsea’s decision to sell Kurt Zouma to West Ham for £26m may cause them issues, after failing to find a replacement before the transfer window closed.
The Sky Sports pundit feels that Zouma gave the Blues much-needed depth in the centre-back position, especially as manager Thomas Tuchel prefers playing three at the back:
“I think they are massive challengers but letting Zouma go and not bringing anybody in – especially when they play three at the back – you’re going to play James as one of the three, when he’s more of a wing-back. They have got cover, but if those players had to play nine, 10, 11, 12 games during the season all in one hit at that position it’s going to be a lot more difficult.”
“For me, surely they’d have let Zouma go on the strength of getting in Kounde, or they think Chalobah will be very good, and I think he will be good. But it’s going to be hard. When we get into the nitty-gritty of the Champions League that’s what Chelsea are going to be all about and in terms of winning the Premier League I think Zouma will be missed.”
Jules Kounde was Chelsea’s number one target to strengthen the backline but the European champions were unable to agree a fee with Sevilla for the France international.
The La Liga club were adamant that the defender’s €80m (£68m) release clause should be triggered but the Blues felt that he wasn’t worth that amount.
As Merson points out, Tuchel may have to rely more on Trevoh Chalobah than he would have anticipated, but the defender has shown enough in the games against Villarreal and Crystal Palace that he is ready to step in and play regularly for the first team.