Kurt Zouma close to £25m West Ham move as Chelsea pursue Jules Koundé
Kurt Zouma is close to completing his £25m move to West Ham, paving the way for Chelsea to push ahead with their bid to sign Jules Koundé from Sevilla.
West Ham’s attempts to sign Zouma were in doubt after negotiations with intermediaries ran into difficulties on Wednesday night, but those issues have now been resolved and the transfer is expected go ahead. The French centre-back has agreed to make the switch across London and is set to have a medical in Paris on Thursday, although there are still some last-minute issues to iron out.
Chelsea have decided to allow Zouma to leave as they want to make space in their squad for Koundé, who is regarded as one of the best centre-backs in Spain. The European champions needed to sell a centre-back before moving for Koundé and they have had to wait for Zouma to reach an agreement with West Ham over personal terms. The deal had stalled over the 26-year-old’s demands for a deal worth £130,000 a week, but a compromise has been reached.
West Ham, who are top of the Premier League after winning their first two matches, have been keen to strengthen in central defence after qualifying for the Europa League by finishing sixth last season. David Moyes, who was a centre-back down after losing Fabián Balbuena on a free transfer in the summer, identified Zouma as a key target and has received backing from the board.
Moyes had a late change of heart over a deal to sign the Fiorentina defender Nikola Milenkovic this month and has instead switched his sights to Zouma, who joined Chelsea from Saint-Étienne in 2014. West Ham also want to buy a striker before the transfer window shuts next week and have not given up on the idea of signing Jesse Lingard, with CSKA Moscow’s Nikola Vlasic an alternative to the Manchester United midfielder.
Zouma’s impending departure is expected to result in Koundé moving to Stamford Bridge. The Sevilla defender’s contract contains a £68m buyout clause, although Chelsea would prefer to pay a lower fee. Sources in Spain are confident that Chelsea will not find it hard to strike a deal with Sevilla for the 22-year-old Frenchman.
Chelsea are also in talks with Atlético Madrid over a loan move for Saúl Ñíguez, who has also been targeted by Manchester United. The deal for the 26-year-old midfielder could include an option to buy.