Chelsea will sign the French defender Kurt Zouma for £12.5m from St Etienne with a view to the player spending the rest of the season on loan in France before coming to London in the summer, as Jose Mourinho's rebuilding continues.
The deal, Chelsea's fourth signing of the window, puts further pressure on the situation of John Terry, the club captain, whose future beyond this season is yet to be resolved by the club.
Terry, 33, has been told that a decision has not yet been made on whether he will get a new contract and he is unlikely to get an answer until March.
Zouma, 19, will go straight into the first-team squad when he arrives at Chelsea. The club had originally planned on signing the Porto defender Eliaquim Mangala, with a strong interest in him last summer, but the Porto defender has been given a £38m valuation by his club, which Chelsea felt was unreasonable.
The deal for Zouma demonstrates how seriously Mourinho has taken the opportunity to continue his process of change at Chelsea this month. Nemanja Matic and Mohamed Salah have been brought to the club while Bertrand Traoré's future has finally been secured after he became eligible to sign a professional contract in the United Kingdom.
Zouma's arrival in the summer means that Chelsea can afford to be flexible when it comes to the futures of Terry and David Luiz. As ever, the director Marina Granovskaia will have a major part to play in liaising with owner Roman Abramovich over the futures of Terry, Frank Lampard and Ashley Cole – all of whom could potentially leave the club when their contracts expire at the end of the season.
Zouma, a France Under-21 international, has been on Chelsea's long-term list and fits their target profile of young talent acquired at a relatively low price. The defender has served a 10-game ban this season, laid down by a more flexible disciplinary system in France, for a tackle that left Sochaux's Thomas Guerbert with a broken leg and a dislocated ankle.
Fulham will sign the Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Lewis Holtby, beating Aston Villa to the player, who has had a medical at the west London club. Holtby could yet be followed out of Spurs by Etienne Capoue, in whom Napoli are interested, and the club would listen to offers for the striker Gylfi Sigurdsson and Nacer Chadli, who only arrived last summer, on the final day of the transfer window.
There remains interest from some of the hierarchy at Spurs in re-signing Dimitar Berbatov, whom Fulham are prepared to sell in this window before his contract expires in June. As it stands, it is unlikely that manager Tim Sherwood and technical director Franco Baldini would sanction a move for Berbatov. However, the option is there for Spurs chairman Daniel Levy and the former Manchester United striker is likely to be the subject of interest on the final day of the window.
Queens Park Rangers loaned Adel Taarabt - who has spent the first part of this season on laon at Fulham - to Milan in Serie A, one of the first major decisions by the Italian club's new coach Clarence Seedorf. Rene Meulensteen is also expected to break the club's transfer record on the Greek striker Kostas Mitroglou of Olympiakos for more than £12m. Mitroglou, 25, would be giving up the chance to play against Manchester United in the Champions League this season.
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