The Southampton fans here in the Football Transfer Tavern are dreading checking the daily gossip columns for fear of news regarding the departure of captain Virgil van Dijk.
The general consensus around the bar, those who aren’t Saints fans at least, is that the Dutchman will be off sooner rather than later and that the powers that be at St. Mary’s need to be working on a replacement as soon a possible.
According to reports in the London Evening Standard, Premier League champions Chelsea are readying a move for the former Celtic man, but are looking to loan out Kurt Zouma to make room, and our landlord reckons it’s an option Saints should be taking up immediately.
Most fans on the south coast will be canny enough to know that there is little the club can do if Van Dijk decides now is the time to go, and that Chelsea’s French defender could well be the ideal replacement.
The Saints have benefited from a couple of deals from Stamford Bridge in recent years, having loaned Ryan Bertrand in the wake of the departure of Luke Shaw in 2014, making the deal permanent in the January following, before buying midfielder Oriol Romeu a year later for £5m.
With both having gone on to more than successfully replace Shaw and in Romeu’s case Wanyama, there is certainly a logic in making the move for £14.45m-rated Zouma.
The one issue fans here in the bar are raising is whether or not the 22-year-old will be able to replicate his form since the long-term ACL injury, and persistent knee problems across his career.
However, since making the return from his lay-off in November last year Zouma has found it hard to get a run in the side given the form of Antonio Conte’s back three.
With that in mind, a solid place in the starting eleven at St. Mary’s could well see the defender rise back to the form he was showing during his breakthrough at Stamford Bridge, and could well be another success story from west London to Southampton.
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