Kurt Zouma continues to be heavily linked with a move away from Chelsea, with West Ham said to be one of his many suitors, but Thomas Tuchel has suggested that there could be a Stamford Bridge future for the defender.
The Blues are well stocked at centre-half and continue to pursue a deal for another France international in Sevilla defender Jules Kounde.
An agreement there could see Zouma used as a makeweight, but Tuchel is not ruling out the prospect of keeping a unit that delivered Champions League glory last season intact.
Tuchel has told reporters when asked about possible exits: “Kurt comes from a very different situation.
“Kurt was part of the team for half a year, I know him exactly, what I can demand from him, what he can give to the team. He was part of a very successful half a season.
“He was a very lively part of it, maybe not in minutes but I want to remember he was a crucial member of the team that won 2-0 against Atletico, for example.
“So when he was needed, and he had some tough decisions against him, but when he delivered. So the situation isn’t comparable to Ruben [Loftus-Cheek].
“Ruben needs to show now everything in some weeks if that’s possible. For Kurt, it’s different as I know what he can deliver.”
Zouma is tied to a contract at Chelsea through to 2023. He made 36 appearances across all competitions last season but did not figure in the latter stages of the Champions League or for France at Euro 2020, despite making Didier Deschamps’ squad.
Tuchel handed Zouma 45 minutes in the 2-1 pre-season win over Arsenal on Sunday, with the Blues giving game time to as many players as possible.
It remains to be seen whether the Frenchman will still be involved at the club by the time the 2021-22 Premier League season opener against Crystal Palace comes on August 14 – with the UEFA Super Cup clash with Villarreal coming three days prior to that.