Chelsea have been told they must pay £18m to secure the services of Saint-Etienne's highly-rated defender Kurt Zouma, according to the Mirror.

The Blues are reluctant to meet the French club's asking price, but Les Verts are standing firm with one day remaining before the January transfer window closes.

Zouma, 19, is widely regarded as one of the most promising young centre-backs in Europe - and Jose Mourinho is determined to add him to his ranks.

However, Saint-Etienne co-president Roland Romeyer insists the club do not need to cash in on their prized asset.

“Some clubs have launched a bid for the player, but we will not change our strategy," he confirmed.

“There have been discussions for Zouma with English, Italian and French clubs, but he will not be leaving this month unless we find an agreement with some of the potential buyers.

“If not, he will have to wait until the summer. We are under no obligation to sell.”

Manchester United are not expected to sign the France Under-21 international despite the fact that David Moyes is a fan of the central defender, who has only just returned to action after serving a ten-match ban for breaking Sochaux midfielder Thomas Guerbert's leg with a horror tackle.

But it remains to be seen whether it will be Chelsea or Saint-Etienne who blinks first.

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Manchester United
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