Former Premier League manager Sam Allardyce has pinpointed not replacing Kurt Zouma as a major area of concern that could be costly to Chelsea as they chase the 2021/22 Premier League title.
Everything on and off the pitch is rosy for the west London club at the minute, with three quality and astute summer signings in the transfer window coupled with the seven points picked up in three league games.
Despite the excellent Romelu Lukaku and Saul Niguez acquisitions, the focus for Marina Granovskaia and co. has been on generating income from the outgoings of certain young and fringe players in this period.
One of those said fringe players that were shown the door was Kurt Zouma, who moved across London to join David Moyes’ West Ham outfit.
The £29.8million raised from that deal was supposed to help with the signing of Jules Kounde, but Sevilla going back on their initial £42m agreement caused the hierarchy to walk away from negotiations.
It is understood that Chelsea may revisit their interest in the ex-Bordeaux star when the January transfer window comes along, but Allardyce’s worries in the short term the lack of a Zouma replacement could prove detrimental in many ways for manager Thomas Tuchel.
He told Sky Sports: When you let Zouma go and you haven’t replaced him is the reason as to why they wanted to sign Kounde.
“That could be a big telling factor because his [Thomas Tuchel’s] defensive success was based on the defensive quality that they proved last year that Frank [Lampard] couldn’t find.
“But he found that defensive quality at Chelsea straight away which stood them in good stead and I think they had the best defensive record apart from Manchester City in his tenure.
“I think that is why they did so well, and they won the Champions League.
“Injuries in that area now may make it more difficult but certainly the rest of the squad and especially Lukaku where it was goals missing upfront last year, they’ve got that leading goalscorer to put that right.
“Defensively, if they suffer a few injuries, I just wonder how they will get on with the cover that they now have in the centre-half area.
“Zouma’s gone and the young and upcoming Kounde was going to be the natural replacement- he had a lot of quality in Spain and now has a big reputation.
“It would have been ideal but unfortunately it hasn’t happened for him.”
The veteran manager then added: “I’ve been massively impressed with Tuchel, especially considering he walked into the job not knowing many of the players.
“It just showed how well Chelsea had recruited before getting him there because everything about being a manager is linked to the quality of your players.
“Then you will see something that the other managers didn’t see.
“Frank was more attack-minded than Tuchel and a more defensive minded approach suited Chelsea better.
“They ended up going straight up in the league and winning the Champions League, so quality players were signed by Chelsea before he got there.
“We aren’t managers anymore, we are head coaches – we don’t have the ultimate decision on players being bought or sold anymore.”
Chelsea currently have five natural centre-halves in their revamped squad roster meaning, if fortunate enough with avoiding an abundance of injuries, they should be okay to compete on all fronts with the selection of options available to Tuchel.