Before a knee injury ruled him out for almost a year Kurt Zouma was well on his way to establishing himself as a cult hero at Stamford Bridge.
After 11 months out he made his return against Peterborough United, starting and finishing what turned out to be an entertaining stroll for a rotated Chelsea squad.
Having Zouma back gives Antonio Conte a high-quality centre-back to compete with David Luiz, Gary Cahill, Cesar Azpilicueta and John Terry. Removing the need to dip into the January transfer window despite the ongoing rumours.
Before his injury Zouma looked set to push Gary Cahill out of the starting line-up or Stamford Bridge altogether, however the heart of the Chelsea defence has changed almost beyond recognition during his time on the sidelines.
Antonio Conte now plays three in the centre of defence giving more opportunities within the line up. However now he must compete with the return of David Luiz and the movement of Cesar Azpilicueta into the central defensive trio.
Will Zouma Get In The Chelsea Team?
Chelsea have gone on a great run with a defence of Cahill, Luiz and Azipilcueta and it will be tough to break that partnership.
Competition for places will be fierce, but with time I am backing the Frenchman to oust Gary Cahill and consign John Terry to retirement. This may sound like a negative but it gives the Blues perfect succession planning. Replacing Terry was never going to be easy but it looks like we have the foundations set.
This may sound like a negative but it gives the Blues perfect succession planning. Replacing Terry was never going to be easy but it looks like we have the foundations set.
The return of Zouma is more than a boost to the current squad but also to the clubs balance sheet. After a cash windfall from selling Oscar a defender was rumoured to be high on the list.
His return means this can be postponed to the summer at the earliest when prices will be more reasonable and the Blues can take their time to identify the right target. So it is safe to assume that the return of Zouma may have saved the club millions in the short term.