Kurt Zouma, who is reportedly a target for Everton this summer, is a key part of the Chelsea first-team setup, Frank Lampard has insisted.

As quoted by Daily Mirror, Chelsea manager Frank Lampard has made it clear that Kurt Zouma will be a part of his squad in the upcoming season. Everton have thus, been handed a major blow in their hopes of signing the French centre-back on a permanent deal this summer.

Kurt Zouma arrived at Chelsea a prodigious teenager, who had been regarded quite highly be then manager Jose Mourinho. In his first two seasons, the Frenchman vindicated his manager’s trust by considerably growing in stature at Stamford Bridge. But, midway through the 2015-16 campaign, he sustained a long-term knee injury that would seriously impact his short-term future.

Indeed, Zouma has failed to become a regular at Chelsea since then, having spent the last two terms away from the club. After a decent campaign with Stoke City in 2017-18, the 24-year-old provided an indication last season that he had finally shrugged off the impacts of the aforementioned knee injury, during a season-long loan spell at Everton.

The success at Goodison Park has since reportedly convinced the Toffees to launch the offensive for Zouma over a permanent move this summer. With Matthew Pennington linked with a summer exit and Mason Holgate not a regular yet, Everton are in serious need of a centre-back this summer.

With Zouma already proving his worth last season, a permanent move made sense. But, Everton have now been handed a cruel blow by Chelsea, with Frank Lampard insisting that the 24-year-old is headed nowhere this summer.

Speaking after his side’s shock 1-0 loss to Kawasaki Frontale on Friday, Lampard said, as quoted by Daily Mirror, “In terms of Kurt Zouma, he’s a very good defender for us, very good player, very good person and professional. I want him here, simple as that.

“We are competitive with the centre backs we have in the team and he had a very good season at Everton and I can understand why they want him. He’s a Chelsea player and I want him.”

Set for Chelsea stay. (Photo by Franck Fife/AFP/Getty Images)

Set for Chelsea stay. (Photo by Franck Fife/AFP/Getty Images)

Having been slapped with a two-window transfer ban, Chelsea have had to change their outlook, and are looking to keep hold of their best youngsters. The Blues have already tied Mason Mount to a new long-term deal, while Callum Hudson-Odoi looks set to stay put at the Bridge by penning a bumper new contract as well.

Keeping Zouma will be the latest decision of implementing this outlook, and with the Frenchman featuring in all three pre-season games thus far, it looks like he could be in pole position to start Chelsea’s first game of the upcoming season, especially with Antonio Rudiger on the sidelines. As for Everton, they must quickly turn their attention elsewhere in search of a new centre-back.

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