Chelsea have informed Ligue 1 club St Etienne of their interest in young defender Kurt Zouma. The Metro believes the Europa League champions have asked the French club to name their price for the 18-year-old.
The France U20 international has attracted a string of admirers from the Premier League, after a superb season with his club; St Etienne have qualified for the opening rounds of next season's Europa League campaign.
It is understood that both Manchester United and Alan Pardew's Newcastle United have had bids rejected, while Liverpool were also credited with an interest earlier this year. However, given the Anfield side have since confirmed the free transfer of former Arsenal defender Kolo Toure, Brendan Rodgers is unlikely to join the race for Zouma.
For their part, the Blues have confirmed the arrival of German youngster Andre Schurrle, but Jose Mourinho is understood to want defensive cover as well, given that two defenders in his present first team - John Terry and Ashley Cole - are in the latter stages of their careers and Brazilian David Luiz appears unlikely to be a part of the former Real Madrid manager's plans.
Chelsea have been linked with FC Porto's Eliaquim Mangala, but the Portuguese club have refused all bids below €50m according to Sky Sports. Mourinho is unwilling to do business on such steep terms.
The good news for Blues' fans is Zouma is keen to play for the west London club and is particularly delighted at Mourinho's personal interest.
"If you hear of interest from Chelsea and a great manager such as Jose Mourinho, you take notice. It makes you happy, and it means you are on the right way to the top," the youngster told Sky Sports.
Meanwhile, Chelsea have confirmed the departures of Paulo Ferreira, Yossi Benayoun, Florent Malouda and Ross Turnbull. The four players' deals expired on Sunday and none of them fit into Mourinho's plans for the club.