Johan Djourou believes Switzerland midfielder Denis Zakaria’s lack of match action at Chelsea will have taken a toll on his mental health.
Zakaria made a surprise loan move to Chelsea on transfer deadline day from Juventus but, after Thomas Tuchel’s dismissal, the 25-year-old has struggled for game time under new Blues boss Graham Potter.
The Switzerland international made his long-awaited Chelsea debut against Dinamo Zagreb in the Champions League earlier this month and impressed, scoring his first goal for the club in a 2-1 win.
He also turned out for Chelsea in their 2-0 defeat to Man City in the Carabao Cup a week later but is yet to feature in the Premier League under Potter.
Despite that, Zakaria has been named in Switzerland’s squad for the World Cup alongside Arsenal midfielder Granit Xhaka, Manchester City defender Manuel Akanji and former Liverpool and Stoke City forward Xherdan Shaqiri.
Former Arsenal defender Djourou has previously played alongside Zakaria for Switzerland and believes the midfielder could have an impact during the World Cup, if given the opportunity.
Speaking exclusively to talkSPORT, Djourou said: “I think Denis has a lot of quality. He is a player with a great personality as well. [He’s] maybe a bit shy and that’s why he’s maybe having a difficult time because you have to have some personality to go against that because I think in training, you won’t have any problems for him to show up and give his best.
“But to maybe have a talk and ask the questions as to why he hasn’t had more time and just have that conversation, that’s not maybe in his personality. He doesn’t speak the language too well as well at the moment.
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“He has a lot of quality but when you don’t play a lot – because he hasn’t played a minute in the league for example but he’s played a Champions League game and a Carabao Cup game – that affects you a bit. You have it in your head and your mental [health] isn’t the best.
“I don’t think he is at the best right now mentally, but I hope that he will go around it and come back stronger.
“Hopefully, the World Cup could help him. I don’t think he’s going to be a starter for Switzerland, but when he comes in, he can have an impact for sure.”
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