Kurt Zouma says he is really enjoying life at Everton, detailing how his all-round game has progressed significantly under the tutelage of boss Marco Silva.
The defender also revealed his confidence the Blues will soon start climbing the Premier League, pointing to the depth of quality in Silva’s squad and the team spirit within the ranks.
The 24-year-old joined Everton on loan from Chelsea on transfer deadline day last summer and has impressed in his first five months at Goodison Park.
The Frenchman has made 20 appearances for the Toffees and saw his accomplished displays rewarded with a third senior international cap in October. He played 45 minutes as the world champions battled out a 2-2 draw with Gylfi Sigurdsson’s Iceland at the Stade de France.
Zouma says the challenging, encouraging environment created by Everton’s coaching staff - as well as the strong competition for places in the squad - has helped him to raise his game.
The former St Etienne player is battling it out with fellow summer signing Yerry Mina, the in-form Michael Keane and Club captain Phil Jagielka for a place in Silva’s team.
“I am really enjoying it here at Everton,” Zouma said.
“I came to a big club. Everyone in England and everyone in France knows Everton. I’m glad to be here.
“I feel my game is developing well. I am improving my passing game and even defensively I have improved.
“We have strong centre-backs here, too. We can play in a back three or a back four and I am happy to do either. The competition is there and that is good for us.”
Next up for Zouma and Everton is a home clash with Bournemouth on Sunday (kick-off 2.15pm).
The Blues head into the game on the back of a gruelling festive period in the Premier League, but having booked their place in the fourth round of the FA Cup with a victory over Lincoln City last Saturday.
Zouma is expecting a stern test against Eddie Howe’s men but set out the squad’s resolve to reward the Toffees’ loyal support with a win at the Grand Old Lady.
“Goodison is our home and our stadium,” he said. “And we have good game to show this weekend that it is our home and be really difficult to beat.
“Everybody feels confident. We do the hard work, we all put a shift on, everyone is working hard. I think we have a good team and we will turn the results back in our way.
“We drew 2-2 away to Bournemouth and it was a difficult game. We know they have two quick strikers and they like to play from the back.
“It is going to be difficult to play them, but we are at home and we have to play how we can.”
Zouma also revealed he is relishing playing alongside fellow France international Lucas Digne.
The left-back has played every minute of Everton’s past 17 Premier League games, with his ambitious attacking, polished defensive work and ball-striking ability regularly catching the eye.
With players such as Digne in the squad, Zouma is convinced the Blues can propel themselves up the Premier League table.
“I knew Lucas before I moved to Everton and, to be back playing with him, I feel very happy,” he said. “I know the quality he has, and he is showing it in every game.
“We have a very good squad overall. We need to win games and go on a good run, like we did a couple of months ago.
“We have to get back to there.”