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N´Zonzi flattered by Chelsea links but focused on Sevilla

Steven N’Zonzi is flattered by reported interest from Chelsea, but insists he is focused on raising his game at Sevilla.

Midfielder N’Zonzi was a Copa del Rey runner-up and Europa League winner in his first season at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan and has developed into a key figure under Jorge Sampaoli this term, with talks over a contract extension ongoing.

However, his performances are believed to be drawing the gaze of Premier League giants Chelsea, who could be on the lookout for greater strength in the centre of the pitch with Cesc Fabregas linked with a January exit.

While a return to England would be of interest to the former Blackburn Rovers and Stoke City midfielder, his immediate priority is continuing to improve in LaLiga.

“It’s nice, it’s good,” N’Zonzi told L’Equipe when asked about the reported interest of Chelsea. “But I always say that this type of club is interested in other players too.

“I am not the only one. I know that big clubs are interested in many players. I focus on what I do at Sevilla. Until there is something concrete, we must remain professional.

“Some clubs were interested [in the close-season], but I feel good at Sevilla. I enjoy the game, the football, I like the way Sevilla play, I feel good in the city, with the fans and the club and I’m enjoying myself.”

Despite N’Zonzi’s impressive form he is yet to make a senior international appearance for France, but he is using his absence from Didier Deschamps’ set-up as motivation to develop and secure a life-long goal of playing at a World Cup.

N’Zonzi added: “I’m not ready yet. If I was ready, I would be in the France team. So I have to work to become even better.

“I have not been selected, so I must not be at the level of the French team. To play in a World Cup is a dream. I must prove myself in my club. If one day I’m selected, we’ll see if I have the level.”

A desire to overcome disappointment has been key to N’Zonzi’s career, who made it as a professional despite being let go by Paris Saint-Germain and Caen during his youth career.

“Past failures build character and make you want to go further,” he said. “When I was not kept by PSG after three seasons and Caen after one year, there was suffering.

“When we are young, we have neither the experience nor the hindsight to take things positively, but I never gave up. When I learned it was over with PSG – I must have been 13 or 14 – it was hard to take, it affects your pride.

“It was harder for me when Caen didn’t keep me, because I was 15, 16, and at that age, you are approaching the time when you will have to go professional.

“Those years light the flame in you, to show all these people they may have been wrong.”

Sun 6 Nov, 2016
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