Kurt Zouma
Kurt Zouma (Centre) is a target for Newcastle and Chelsea. Reuters

French club Saint-Etienne are reportedly looking for a centre-back this January should Chelsea or Newcastle finally launch a genuine attempt to tempt Kurt Zouma to move to the Premier League.

Zouma, 19, has garnered a reputation as one of the brightest prospects in Ligue 1 and has caught the eye of a number of big European clubs, including Chelsea, Newcastle, Inter Milan and Monaco, while Manchester United have also been linked with the defender in the past.

French website Le 10 Sport report that Saint-Etienne want to keep Zouma until the end of the season but are aware the talented player may be tempted to move to a big club this January and are already monitoring alternative centre-backs to replace the youngster.

According to the reports, the French side have compiled a short-list of possible replacements including Bordeaux defender Lamine Sane, Monaco wantaway Nicolas Isimat-Mirin and Valencienne's Benjamin Angoua.

Zouma recently claimed that he was keen on playing for Chelsea and revealed that Mourinho, who sees him as a John Terry's long-term replacement, made a personal approach to sign him.

"If you tell me to go to Chelsea, I'll go there immediately!" Zouma said earlier this month.

"Especially after the call from the coach [Mourinho]. It's given me ideas. There was advanced contact last month. At the start I thought it was a joke but afterwards I quickly took the call seriously."

Nevertheless, recent reports claimed that Newcastle were leading the race to sign the defender as the number of French speakers in Alan Pardew's side may help to his adaptation to the Premier League.

Zouma is considered one of the finest young defenders in Europe and has represented France at every level up to under-21, and last summer led his country to a victory in the Under-20 World Cup.