Stoke boss Paul Lambert has confessed that the opportunity to secure Kurt Zouma on an extended loan deal - or permanently - is enticing, but admits that the club's ability to discuss his long-term future is dependant on their Premier League survival.
The Potters are dangerously positioned in 19th position, one point adrift of safety with 10 games remaining. However, Zouma has been the shining light in a lacklustre season to date having missed just three league games since joining the club - two against his parent club, Chelsea.
Whilst the thought of the 23-year-old defender staying at Stoke beyond the season is encouraging to their teams growth moving into the future, Lambert admits he cannot look too far ahead as the club have a stern battle on the hands to climb out of the relegation zone.
“It's not something I've thought about because I've been concentrating on all the games," Lambert told the Stoke Sentinel.
“But once it's all calmed down and settled and the club stays up, then it's something to think about because he's at a really good age as well. He's only a young lad and I think he's only going to get better. It would certainly be a good one, that's for sure.”
Our boy Zouma is literally heads above all of Stoke's defense.— Rohit Azpibalaga (@RRRahate) February 24, 2018
Financing a permanent deal, however, would prove troublesome for Stoke as Chelsea have previously valued Zouma in the region of £40m, where his effort and dedication alone is worth that in itself according to his manager.
Lambert said: "That's the other aspect of it and the way salaries are at the minute, you look at some of them and you think 'Where has that one come from?'
“But Kurt is one where if you asked my opinion of him, it's one we'd definitely look at. I really don't think Kurt is one of these kids where you don't know what you're going to get. You know you're going to get an absolute honest footballer that will do everything he can.
“I thought his performance last week was top level against a guy [Jamie Vardy] who I think is a really good striker. I think Kurt, the way he played, the biggest compliment I could give him was you wouldn't think he was a loan player. That's how you judge loan players,” he added.