Ex-Liverpool and Chelsea boss Rafael Benitez is planning to beat his two former clubs to the signing of St Etienne defender Kurt Zouma, according to reports in France.

Le 10 Sport claims Benitez has prioritised the signing of a new centre-back in January. He's been linked with two Liverpool defenders - Martin Skrtel and Daniel Agger - but the report claims he's now more interested in one of the Anfield club's transfer targets, Zouma.

The 19-year-old recently received a 10-match ban for a reckless tackle that broke an opponent's leg in Ligue 1 earlier this month.

But the French youth international has been followed by some of Europe's top clubs, including Chelsea, Inter Milan, Atletico Madrid and Liverpool.

Manchester City are another Premier League side to be mentioned as possible suitors, but Benitez is keen to continue his aggressive recruitment policy in the January transfer window.

Over the summer, the ex-Liverpool manager put the funds received for Edinson Cavani to good use, snapping up Gonzalo Higuain, Jose Callejon and Raul Albiol from Real Madrid and Dries Mertens from PSV as well as Pepe Reina on loan from Liverpool.

His strongest competition could come from Chelsea and Manchester City, with Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers satisfied with his defensive reinforcements brought to Anfield in August.

The club signed Mamadou Sakho and Tiago Ilori in the final days of the summer window, while Kolo Toure had joined a few months previous.

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