Belfast Telegraph

Stoke sign defender Kurt Zouma on a season-long loan

Stoke have signed Kurt Zouma on a season-long loan from Chelsea, who have tied the France international to a new six-year contract.

The 22-year-old centre-back has made 71 appearances for the Blues since joining from St Etienne in 2014, but suffered a serious knee injury in February 2016, halting his progress.

He was restricted to 13 appearances for the first team last season, despite the departures of John Terry and Nathan Ake, Antonio Rudiger's arrival has increased competition at Stamford Bridge.

Stoke were one of several suitors and claimed in a statement to have "fought off stern competition" for his signature.

The defender, who was voted Chelsea's young player of the year in 2014/15, played in the 2015 Capital One Cup final victory over Tottenham and has been part of two Premier League-winning squads, spoke enthusiastically about his opportunity at the Bet365 Stadium.

"I am absolutely delighted to be here," he told Stoke City+.

"From the first time I spoke to the club I just knew that Stoke City would be the best place for me to come and grow as a player. The manager spoke very well and I also spoke to a few of my teammates at Chelsea, who had played here before, and they had many very good things to say.

"They told me that I would be made to feel very welcome here, that I would be looked after and that the group of players here would help me to settle straight in. There were just so many positive things that I heard from many people - it is the right move for me to make and I just can't wait to get the season underway now."

Chelsea technical director Michael Emenalo told www.chelseafc.com: "It is fantastic Kurt has chosen to commit his future to Chelsea. He has shown his talent since joining us three years ago, and has returned from a serious injury with a fantastic attitude.

"Now he has the opportunity to play regularly in the Premier League and we will be monitoring his progress closely while he is at Stoke."

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