Chelsea look set to up their interest in highly rated St Etienne defender Kurt Zouma as Porto play hard ball with the Europa League champions over Eliaquim Mangala.
Valued at around £10million Zouma may be more within Chelsea’s budget for a centre back as Mangala and Porto have distanced themselves from rumours linking the player with a move to Stamford Bridge.
The 18 year old Zouma, French Under 20 international, is seen as one of the rising stars of European football and has already been compared to Marcel Desailly leading to a host of clubs declaring their interest in the towering defender but Chelsea’s position is believed to be strong.
Zouma is no rush to leave the Ligue 1 side according to his agent but Chelsea may turn up the heat in their pursuit of him after responding less than enthusiastically to a question regarding the link to the Londoners.
‘”It’s flattering, Mourinho is a great coach, but it’s a rumour,” the French international who won his first cap recently said before playing down the possibility of him joining up with the Blues.
“To be honest, moving this season is not ideal for me. I intended to stay in Porto but you never know in football especially with big clubs involved Paris (Saint Germain) are now spending big.
“‘Here I play every week and I’m always involved in the title fight and also the Champions League.”
Mourinho is keen to bring in a centre back of the quality to compete for a first team spot this season as he prepares to rejuvenate the Chelsea back line by allowing David Luiz to move if the price is met and doubts over John Terry’s long term fitness.
Paris Saint-Germain are set to make a move for Luiz as soon to be appointed coach Laurent Blanc is keen to link the Brazilian centre-back up with his international team mate Thiago Silva at the heart of the Ligue 1 champions’ defence.
Mangala would set the Londoners back around £30million even if he were to push for a transfer from Portugese champions who signed him from Standard Liege in 2011 for £5.5million so the Special One has looked at a number of options.
Elsewhere at Stanford Bridge, it has been announced that goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois will remain on loan at Atletico Madrid for a third straight season with the Spanish club.