His middle name may be “Happy”, but West Ham’s Kurt Zouma will be anything but, at his failure thus far to establish himself as the Hammers’ main centre back, thanks to a mix of on and off field problems. With West Ham in dire need of defensive stability, and rumours of potential new acquisitions, should the time be now to question his place at the club?
In the summer of 2021, West Ham found themselves in dire need of an experienced, talented centre back in his prime to lead the line, as they aimed to slowly phase out the ageing Angelo Ogbonna.
Only 18 months later, they find themselves back at square one, as the player they bought to fill that gap, Zouma, finds himself at risk of proving a flop in East London. In fact, the evergreen Ogbonna now finds himself starting (and excelling to boot) in the heart of David Moyes’ back three, a situation which came about more of necessity than managerial desire.
To read more about West Ham’s pursuit of Terem Moffi, click here.
Zouma’s malaise in east London has little to do with his performances on the pitch – and more to do with how little time he spends for the club on it, and his much publicised antics away from football.
When he plays, as he did against Everton, Zouma often proves a classy and cool headed central defender, worthy of starting for an aspiring European competitor. However, his court room drama last year surrounding claims of alleged animal abuse proved an unwelcome distraction for all involved. Both player and club paid for that episode with on field booing and social media slander, at a time when neither party could afford it.
His main problem however, as was flagged at the time of his signing, is his well-known injury history with his legs. Zouma’s recent quad injury is already his 4th in a season and a half at West Ham, and with the player having missed more than 100 days through injury already, questions abound as to if his time in claret and blue should be up.
Whilst unthinkable as recently as a month ago, the stunning form of this summer’s star centre back signing Nayef Aguerd (himself a long term injury absentee) has meant Zouma is no longer the indispensable presence he once was. In fact, even despite Craig Dawson’s departure to Wolves, Zouma’s position at West Ham should be under scrutiny- not for his obvious talent, but for the frequency with which he is unable to demonstrate it.
After all, as they say, the best ability is availability.