Kurt Zouma’s seven-and-a-half year Chelsea career is at an end after the defender today completed a permanent move to West Ham United.
Zouma leaves Stamford Bridge having made 151 appearances for the Blues and scored 10 goals. His last game was our UEFA Super Cup success, one of five trophies he won during his time in west London having arrived from Saint-Etienne in 2014.
Chelsea director Marina Granovskaia said: ‘Kurt Zouma joined us as a young player and has been a part of so many important moments for this club over the past seven-and-a-half years.
'He showed incredible strength of character to return from a very serious injury in 2016, and he has always been an extremely popular character in the dressing room. We thank him for his contribution on and off the pitch for Chelsea, and wish him the very best in the next stage of his career.’
Zouma signed for Chelsea in January 2014, staying at Saint-Etienne on loan for the second half of that campaign. He joined his new teammates in the summer, and the then 19-year-old’s competitive Chelsea debut was a memorable one as he opened the scoring in a 2-1 League Cup win over Bolton Wanderers at Stamford Bridge in September 2014.
After helping us beat Liverpool in the semi-final, Zouma’s individual season highlight was in the final of that same competition at Wembley. Deployed in a central defensive midfield role, Zouma starred as the Blues won 2-0.
A first Premier League title soon followed at the end of a very promising first campaign in English football in which Zouma made 26 appearances in all competitions and made his debut for the France national team.
Zouma established himself as a first-choice centre-back in 2015/16 and scored his maiden Premier League goal in a victory at home to Arsenal.
Heartbreak struck in February 2016, however, as Zouma ruptured his cruciate ligament when landing awkwardly after contesting an aerial duel in a game against Manchester United.
It would be over 10 months until he featured for Chelsea again, but Zouma was on the pitch when we clinched the league title at West Brom, just as he had been when we defeated Crystal Palace to do the same two years prior.
After the 2016/17 season, Zouma embarked on season-long loan moves to Stoke City and then Everton to play regularly and return to the levels he had reached before that serious knee injury.
He rejoined the Blues’ squad ahead of 2019/20 and grabbed the second chance with both hands, remaining a regular throughout a campaign which was paused by the Covid-19 pandemic. His 43 appearances in all competitions was 15 more than any other Chelsea centre-back.
Defensive reinforcements increased competition in that area of the pitch last season, and while Zouma still accumulated 36 appearances, only 13 of those came after Thomas Tuchel’s arrival midway through the campaign.
Zouma nonetheless made five appearances in our successful Champions League campaign, most importantly helping us keep a clean sheet in the home victory over Atletico Madrid in the round of 16.
In Porto, where he was an unused sub, he added the prize of Europe’s elite competition to the two Premier League titles and the League Cup he won at Chelsea prior to his domestic loan moves. A Super Cup triumph followed earlier this month and, with it, Zouma’s 151st and final Chelsea appearance.
An immensely likeable character around Cobham from the moment he arrived, and always living up to his middle name Happy, even during the long road to recovery from injury in 2016, Zouma was an important member of the Chelsea squad for the five seasons he was in it.
He moves across London as a Premier League winner and a Champions League winner, and with the best wishes of everyone at Chelsea. Good luck in the future, Kurt!