Saint-Etienne has high hopes heading into this season with their combination of talented youth and experienced leadership, and are counting on this combination to take them into European competition going forward. One of the young talents key to this squad is defender Kurt Zouma.
Zouma is compared favorably to former French great Marcel Desailly. He's physical, fast and highly skilled for a young player—attributes which have put him on the radar of several teams. The Daily Mail is reporting that Manchester City, Manchester United and QPR had representatives at ASSE's game against Lille to watch the young centerback.
The same article also reported that Queens Park had readied a bid for Zouma. It is easier to fight off the likes of QPR when they come after your prized assets, but if both the Manchesters and Juventus have serious interest, then Saint-Etienne will have trouble holding onto the centerpiece of their future.
Manchester City and Manchester United have both endured a rather quiet transfer season by their standards. Zouma's signature would not be seen as a signing that would help Sir Alex Ferguson or Mancini secure the title this season for their respective clubs. Zouma would find himself behind established defenders at either of the Manchester clubs.
Any interest by the three clubs mentioned would be a move for the future. While Zouma could step in and contribute in cup matches as a sub, it remains to be seen if his progress has him ready for such a big step at a young age.
It is in Saint-Etienne's best interest to hold onto their young star. Having him in green for another two years could potentially see his transfer fee double. If the big clubs take action, then a deal that would see Zouma remain in Saint-Etienne on loan for this season (while also including add-on fees), would be best for the French outfit.
For ASSE fans, the hope is that the wolves can be kept at the door when it comes to the young nucleus Les Verts have been putting together. Just as it seems they are about to return to their rightful place at the top of French football, someone has to come in and try to tear it down.