Saint-Etienne have received a boost in their bid to keep highly-rated defender - and reported Manchester United target - Kurt Zouma, after he penned a new contract with the French club until 2017.

The 18-year-old centre-back has been in impressive form in Ligue 1 this season, and has attracted admiring glances from a number of top European clubs.

Red Devils boss Sir Alex Ferguson was credited with an interest in signing the France U19 international during the January transfer window, with the Daily Mail suggesting Zouma had been identified as a long-term replacement for Nemanja Vidic at Old Trafford.

However, Manchester United's hopes of securing the youngster's signature have been dealt a significant blow, after he reiterated his commitment to Saint-Etienne by signing a new long-term deal.

"This extension is a great vote of confidence in me from the club," he announced in a club statement. "Saint-Etienne means a lot to me because it is where I was developed.

"This is a new step in my career. I still need to learn. I will also gain experience and I know that will help me to grow."

Zouma was rated at around £8million prior to the completion of his new contract, but now Les Verts are in a much stronger position when it comes to negotiating with potential suitors, meaning that Manchester United may be forced to pay even more money if they still wish to bring the player to Old Trafford in the summer.

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