Tags Posts tagged with "Kurt Zouma"

Kurt Zouma

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Kurt Zouma © Francesca Ceciarini

Sampdoria chairman Massimo Ferrero revealed he is trying to sign a Chelsea talent, maybe on loan.

The Serie A side qualified for next Europa League tournament and after signing Walter Zenga as their new coach, they want to revamp the squad, starting from the defense.

This is what the Italian businessman revealed while speaking to some reporters:

“I have already signed Niklas Moisander from Ajax and I am trying to get Kurt Zouma, because they are very physical players.

Zouma made 28 appearances this season with Chelsea, both as a central defender or defensive midfielder and he’s very trusted by manager José Mourinho, even tough he’s not finding enough game-time since he’s blocked by the defensive pair Terry- Cahill.

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Koke was impressive in La Liga last season

The Daily Express reveals that Chelsea are in advanced talks with Atlético Madrid over a £30m swap deal for Spanish midfielder Koke.

According to the English newspaper the 23-year-old has a £44m release clause, but the Blues hope that including former Atlético left-back Filipe Luis in the deal could tempt Cerezo’s club into selling. Luis didn’t impress this season at Stamford Bridge and is reportedly keen on returning to Madrid.

Koke is believed to be on the top of Mourinho’s wishlist, but unless a formation change is in the Portuguese’s plans, the Spain international may find it difficult to occupy a place in Chelsea’s side next term. The Blues have used a 4-2-3-1 system for the majority of the season, with Cesc Fabregas and Nemanja Matic operating as a pair in the heart of the midfield: the two midfielders  both  fundamental for the stability of the team during this successful season, but it’s also true they missed several games for injuries or suspensions, and like every player had moments of low form, with Zouma forced to play in the midfield to give more stability and power, so Koke can be the perfect replacement to dip into in certain moments.

In the last games Mourinho often used the 4-3-3 system also to deal with the absence of his strikers, all coping with injuries, so Koke could perfect to suit a three-men-midfield: his arrival could give Mourinho more options to play and the team won’t be hinging on the two pivots, Fabregas and Matic.

With Real Madrid and Barcelona set to dominate La Liga for the considerable future, Koke may choose to take a step closer to silverware this summer. Chelsea would be the perfect destination for the young midfielder.

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Speaking in an exclusive interview to BT in his living room just two hours after Chelsea won the Premier League title yesterday, Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho explained his feelings on how the Blues reached the title this season:

“I’m very happy, I’m very proud of the boys. It’s not the same Chelsea than before: new team people, new kids, people that never won the Premier League…we lost players like Lampard, Essien Cole…it was not easy, but I’m happy.

“Today we were comfortable but we felt that pressure, it was hard, harder than normal, and Crystal Palace was fantastic…I think this game in another country would finish 5-0,  they didn’t need to get points, they’re in a safe situation, but they played like if they needed one point to survive…fantastic attitude.

“Sometimes I laugh when people compare numbers from different leagues, because I’ve been in all of them and people don’t know the difference, in Spain and Germany you can see many 5-0, 6-0…sometimes in Italy. Here most of the matches is about this…2-1, 1-0…it’s so competitive.

“We lost the derby at White Hart Lane in the beginning of January but since January not one single defeat, we know what we had to do with this. When the situation was getting harder, we lost players, for injuries, for suspensions, key players…we had a lot of problems, and to stay competitive and win matches you have to know how to win and this is an art.

“You have to have mental strength, empathy, cooperation between all of us…it worked.

“I always sleep well before games, maybe is after the game that I don’t sleep well. During the week  I told the players ‘this a normal game, just one more game’ but they knew it wasn’t…If we didn’t win today will be tomorrow, but now we can breath in a different way, we can relax.

“I made the decision to be back, I was getting a special job for me, to be back at a club where I’ve already won before was a risk, expectations were high, if I did wrong people would ask me “why” and now I’m happy, I would never forget the reception I had the first game when I was back, with Hull City last year.

“With my family I try to separate things, the professional life and personal life, I try my mood not to influence the familiar life: they don’t read papers or watch the news but they read me and know when I’m happy or sad. Today all of them were there, usually just my son comes to the games, and it was special because I knew they were behind my bench and I could go to hug them at the end of the game, I couldn’t do that in other stadia like San Siro, Bernabéu, Dragão…

“I’m thinking about the next game, not next season: Crystal Palace gave us an example of what football is, now I gave the boys two days to relax but we have to be back and we have 3 more matches.

“[In the next games] I will give a chance to the boys that didn’t play very much, we got the crown from Manchester City hands- that are a fabulous team- now we have this responsibility, we are the champions.

“I say to my guys at the beginning of every season that here in England if u want to be in the top 4 you have to think about being champions, to be in the top 4 in England now is very hard, every year a big team stay out: Manchester United stayed out last season, and now Liverpool and them are struggling to be there and why not us next season, we have to be strong again, the Premier League is getting more difficult and more difficult but we’re going to try.

John Terry is fantastic: the last season for him before I arrived he was in trouble because it seemed he was in the end of the career and maybe the manager didn’t trust him, last season was very good for him and this one was fantastic. Ivanovic and him got a fantastic spirit, and in the beginning of the season they told me they wanted to play all the Premier League games, and even tough they’re defenders, they did.

“Today Fabregas did a fantastic team talk, he said what I was thinking ‘we worked so hard to be in this position, we worked to hard to be here all together, when we go back in the dressing room we gotta be champions.

“I have to try to stay calm in the dugout, in the half time I told them what was going to happen, we have solutions for everything in this season, we did everything right, we have players with a fantastic spirit, I hope in this moment they’re enjoying it.

“I couldn’t talk to Roman [Abramovich] , I was doing a flash interview, I just stopped the interview one moment to hug him but I know him well and I know he’s happy.

The first part of the season was a fantastic Chelsea, Fabregas was crucial, in the second part we had critical injuries and critical suspension, Diego Costa injured, Diego Costa suspended, Fabregas injured, Matic suspended…Diego and Matic suspensions were quite long: to go through all this was fantasti. I remember the game at QPR with Matic and Fabregas risking to get the 10th yellow card and having a suspension for two games, that would mean to skip Manchester United and Arsenal game, but they didn’t got it and they could play those games.

“We were ready to cope with everything, Zouma was ready to play whenever was needed, Cech – that is the second goalkeeper and that became the second goalkeeper without a reason, because he didn’t do anything special- played six matches and in these matches he gave us the title, Remy came in and gave us 3 points when needed, every player was crucial.

It doesn’t bother me when people say we don’t play attractive football, it doesn’t change me because I’m stronger than that; normally the pundit with a higher voice is the one that comes from the pitch, so they’re stronger in opinions, because they know football better than others. People have to learn not to be influenced by negative comments, [there are] people asking head of a manager because he’s not champion, but only one can be champions.I understand [what people write] it is their job and the industry, but respect is respect and Chelsea deserved it.

Our second goal of the season – Schürrle goal at Burnley with twenty passes and Fabregas vision insight the game – defined what Chelsea was for many months, Cech’s save on Lukaku head shot against Everton means everything, this kind of people to be crucial, to be there where the team needs to be.

“My players are like this for the way we work, we try to get everybody ready and fit if needed but we’re also lucky to have this kind of people, nobody can teach Cech to be the way he is, the same Zouma, Filipe Luis and the other guys that didn’t play very often.

I have a long way to go, but sir Alex is an impossible position, I cannot win 13 Premier Leagues,  13 championships yes, now I am at 8…not 13 Premier Leagues.

When I will go away from Chelsea? When I came back [ to Chelsea] I decided to come back, my family is happy here, when Abramovich tell me to go, I will go.

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Chelsea was often criticized by pundits, fans and journalists in the last months for the style of play: very pragmatic and with not very offensive displays.

It’s true that the last six Premier League victory came for just one-goal margin, as well it’s true that the team got the best goal difference and also is the side that lost fewer games in the League. Maybe these people also forgot what a fantastic football Chelsea played until december, securing a great part of their current advantage – also a mental advantage- in the months of the season.

Mourinho now analyses this situation, explaing what happened and why the team changed their style of playing in an interview to Chelsea website:

“In the first part of the season we had Courtois, Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry, Azpilicueta, Matic and Fabregas, Willian, Oscar, Hazard and Diego Costa”

“Everybody knew the Chelsea team. We then progressively lost the balance of our team. From a certain moment Diego was injured, Diego was suspended,  Matic was suspended, Fabregas was injured, Diego was injured again”

“When you lose crucial pieces in your team the team loses certain kinds of qualities. I didn’t think about it; it was just a consequence of things. When I go to the cup final with Zouma in that position and the triangle built in the other way it’s a consequence of Matic’s suspension”

“It’s very enjoyable to deal with the difficult moments, in a strategic way, and for the players to have a great feeling that this is very important. In football the team spirit, the team ethic, and the strategy is like a life raft”

“I don’t want a bigger squad. I want the team to be ready to deal with the problems. As every team normally has, we have had our problems during the season – and we have been able to deal with them”

“I hope to start next season the same way we started this season, because this is the way we want to play, and this is the team we really enjoy. We are the team that has scored the second most goals. We are the team that has conceded the second fewest goals, and we are the team with the fewest defeats”

“We have scored some of the best goals of the season – and I am not speaking about individual actions or spectacular goals like Charlie Adam’s – I am speaking about spectacular team goals. We started that at Burnley with the Schurrle goal, one of the best goals of the season. We have repeated that almost week after week”

“We are having everything in our season. If we manage to win the Premier League we did everything right”.

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ZOUMA and CAHILL © Francesca Ceciarini

Kurt Zouma had an outstanding performance last Saturday against Manchester United, literally putting in his pocket a player like Marouane Fellaini, that has been one of the best Red Devils players in the last months.

Speaking after the game against Van Gaal side, Chelsea manager José Mourinho said he had spoken to the young French defender about his role in the days ahead of the game:

“I told Zouma I want the game to be 10 against 10, I didn’t want the game to be 11 against 11. During the week we were working for that and the game was 10 against 10”

“See the jobs he is doing for us, as a central defender playing against Agüero, as a central defender playing against Sterling”

“He played as the holding midfield player against Tottenham in a system with only one holding midfield player”

‘Against Man United he played to stop Fellaini from playing in the box. He is doing amazing jobs for us. He is mentally very, very strong, too. Not just physically, mentally he is very strong”

“He’s learned a lot from a tactical point of view since his arrival. So we can imagine with him being aged 20, Chelsea has 10 years of Zouma”.


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Kurt Zouma © Francesca Ceciarini

Kurt Zouma spoke to Chelsea official website after Manchester United clash to analyse his – great- game on Fellaini and the situation in the title race, pointing out the season is not over yet:

“I had to stay with Fellaini because we knew he is on fire at the moment. He has scored a lot of goals so I had to keep an eye on him, and I think I did it well. I had to be physical with him and stay close to him”

“The game was very difficult. The most important thing was that we had one chance and we scored. We defended very well. Manchester United didn’t have many chances to score. We stayed compact”

“We have as much confidence as normal but we are very focused on the next game”

“There is a long way to go and the season isn’t finished. We have to keep going”.

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José Mourinho revealed a curious episode that almost ruined his plans before Manchester United clash.

Fellaini was one the men in the best form in Van Gaal’s side and Mourinho already got a plan in his mind to stop him: to play Kurt Zouma in the midfield, and at the end the plan did work, because the French defender literally put Fellaini in his pocket.

But in the morning of the game the hotel doorman almost ruined Jose’s plan, as himself narrates:

I came down in the morning and the doorman said, ‘Fellaini isn’t playing’

There was a guy that really looked like Fellaini in the hotel, and the doorman asked him ‘What do you want here?’ He said, ‘I’m Fellaini and I’ve come to get tickets from my friend Eden Hazard’

Didn’t smell well for me. I go to Google on my phone and I put in Fellaini brother. The guy is the same”

“So I go with the pictures to the doorman. I say, ‘This one or this one?’ He looks, ‘This one’.

“F*** off, he’s the brother”.


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José Mourinho © Francesca Ceciarini

Chelsea’s 1-0 victory over Manchester United yesterday was one of the most important results of the season, not just because it put them one step closer to winning the Premier League title, but also due to the manner of the win.

The game showed how Chelsea could potentially go onto more success in the near future, should Jose Mourinho find ways to fix the few flaws in the side. Namely, a lack of width going forward and a tendency to lose concentration at the back at crucial moments, both of which were evident at Stamford Bridge yesterday evening and both appear to be problems Mourinho is keen to fix once the transfer window opens for the summer.

In the first half, Chelsea were far too narrow and Fabregas found it difficult to make the defence-splitting passes that we came to enjoy and expect in the first half of the season.

It wasn’t until later on, as United pushed further and further up the pitch, that Chelsea threatened as an attacking unit when they were able to break away from defence. At the back, although Chelsea defended brilliantly for the most part, there moments of danger which were wholly avoidable. One such incident was the header from Wayne Rooney which went over the bar- the England captain being left with a yard of space on all sides after he his run wasn’t tracked.

Had that resulted in an equaliser, it would have been reminiscent of the goal from David Luiz that cost Chelsea further progression in the Champions League. As it is, it highlighted Chelsea’s at times defensive frailties against the very best opposition which comes as a surprise if one thinks back to Mourinho’s first spell as Chelsea manager when the team conceded just 12 goals in the 2004/05 season. Conceding soft goals has, as well as progress in Europe, cost Chelsea points away at Man Utd, Spurs and Southampton, and home and away to Man City to name just a few, so this is bound to be something to be addressed once the season is over.

Saying that, however, yesterday’s performance showed once again Chelsea’s potential to shut out the very best, should these errors be rectified for good. The Reds, despite having 70% of possession, created very little. The closest the away side came had David de Gea celebrating – only for him to realise that Rooney had put his effort wide. That was practically it in the first half, and the biggest fright of all for Chelsea was in stoppage time when Herrera threw himself to the ground and referee Dean’s whistle blew – only to give a free kick the other way as he got the call spot on.

There were periods in the game where one could not help but think back to 2012 and those three unforgettable but unbelievably stressful evenings in the Champions League in London, Barcelona and Munich when a vastly inferior Chelsea side sat back for much of the game only to launch a decisive blow to their opponent when it was least expected. The differences in individual quality between Chelsea and their opponent were not quite the same yesterday, and Mourinho’s readiness to adopt such pragmatic tactics is, was and will continue to be the source of some frustration to Chelsea fans who wish to see the team play with an abandon worthy of Premiership champions.

They should remember that this year, as it has been in the past, Mourinho’s tactical brain has been perhaps the club’s biggest asset, even among the footballing skill of Hazard, Fabregas, Costa etc. Going forward, it is likely to remain that way, and yesterday was evidence of that as the Portuguese outsmarted his one time tutor, Louis van Gaal. Mourinho has revitalised the career of John Terry and made a star out of Kurt Zouma, superb yesterday as the second holding midfielder alongside Nemanja Matic, and given balance to a team that only two years ago resembled a poor impression of a random team from Spain.

He will pit his talent against another old foe next week in the shape of Arsene Wenger, against whom he has never lost, and against whose team Chelsea will probably have to spend most of the time without the ball once again and will rely on the midfield trio of Hazard, Oscar and Arsenal old boy Fabgregas to score when they have the space, it being unlikely that Didier Drogba will return to the form that made him Arsenal’s most feared opponent in the recent past.

The Ivorian, who can’t be questioned for his work rate, is waning faster than most expected after returning in the summer. As it is unlikely that either Remy or Costa will be fit to face the Gunners, it is likely that he will slip back into a deeper position to mark Sanchez and co. out of the game, the way he did with Rooney for the majority of yesterday.

It is probable and almost certain that Chelsea will win the league this season. They have been assisted by the collapse of Manchester City and the slow rebuilding going on at Old Trafford and the Emirates, but yesterday’s match showed once again how Chelsea are perhaps the most balanced team in England, the one that combines work rate and skill better than anyone else, and also this country’s best hope of European success in the near future. The bulk of the credit for that should go to one man.

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José Mourinho © Francesca Ceciarini

Jose Mourinho looked quite satisfied after the very important victory over Manchester United this evening at Stamford Bridge: now Chelsea are 10 points clear of Arsenal -that are second in the table and today were playing the FA Cup semifinal against Reading, so they got one game in hand too- and next weekend they will face the Gunners at the Emirates, another crucial game on the route to the title.

But today’s win was another step toward it, and the players seemed very happy after the referee blew the final whistle, celebrating in the end of the pitch, so Mourinho was immediately asked about this in his post-match press conference, and he explained:

The celebrations were because we beat one of the biggest teams in the world: I understand that. The players gave everything to win the game and they felt the result of the work they’d done all week to prepare

The team were fantastic. I’m the one that knows how fantastic they were because the game was exactly what we wanted. When you manage to play the game you want to play, it’s fantastic. The players were magnificent, on top of that Eden had that magic the top players have, especially in big matches

Obviously he was fundamental  for us but Cahill made an amazing block on Falcao, John Terry was amazing, the keeper was there for us all the time, Azpilicueta was for me the best player on the pitch and Ivanovic was fantastic. Matic worked like an animal, Zouma put Fellaini out of the game, our number 11 [Drogba] was another animal, fighting against two kids young enough to be his sons. Hazard was what you know, Oscar worked fantastically well, Ramires came in and gave us what we needed, Mikel came in for two minutes and held the ball”

Mourinho revealed Willian had been ill for the two days leading up to the game

Willian coming on was a bonus I wanted to give him, he’s been in bed for two days and today he came straight from his house, making himself available to give us some help, he was fantastic

Then Mourinho spoke about the next two games, that Chelsea will play away from Stamford Bridge ( Arsenal and Leicester)

It’s three more points. Obviously every point we get now, every victory we get, is one step in the title direction

We need to win matches. What we can say is that we play for nine points at home, we can be champions just from the matches we play at home. But obviously if we can get points away it’s better’.


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