Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson has invited St Etienne defender Kurt Zouma to watch a game at Old Trafford in an effort to convince the teenage star to sign for United, according to The Sun.

The United manager faces competition from Manchester City, and is believed to have stepped up his pursuit of the 18-year-old centre-back to try and beat the Premier League champions to the signing of one of the most highly-rated youngsters in French football.

Zouma was promoted to the St Etienne first-team last season while still just 17-years-old, and the young defender has already made 27 league appearances for the Ligue 1 club.

The 6ft 2in centre-half is a France under-19 international, and the report claims St Etienne value him at £9m.

Manchester United have a strong track record when it comes to spending money on highly-rated young stars - they paid close to £20m for David De Gea last summer, and paid £25.6m for a 18-year-old Wayne Rooney in 2004, while an 18-year-old Cristiano Ronaldo cost around £12m in 2003.

But Manchester City are expected to rival United for the signature of Zouma. Roberto Mancini paid close to £13m for 19-year-old Matija Nastasic earlier this summer, but the report claims he's interested in Zouma as well.

The Etihad Stadium club announced a £200m plan to revamp their training and academy facilities this season, and are expected to invest heavily in youth over the coming years.

Do YOU want to write for GiveMeSport? Get started today by signing-up and submitting an article HERE: