Stoke City boss Mark Hughes has no doubts about the quality of Kurt Zouma.

The defender is on a season-long loan from Chelsea.

Zouma, 22, cost Stoke a £7 million loan fee when he joined from Chelsea for the season, but his impact has been so huge that Potters boss Hughes wants the the France defender back next term.

The former St Etienne youngster returns for Stoke for Saturday’s visit of Southampton after being ineligible for last week’s 4-0 defeat.

Hughes, 53, reckons £7 million ‘rent’ is a snip as Zouma’s cost in the open market would be beyond Stoke.

Kurt Zouma is a £30-40m centre-half. We can’t afford that, but in the loan market we can get him here so that’s a good thing,” said the Welshman.

“We have to do that because we’re not going to go into the market for a £60million player.”

Hughes is already looking to keep him for another year.

“We’d be more than happy to pursue it if the potential to do it was there – we’d certainly ask,” added the Welshman. “He’s been that impressive.”