Kurt Zouma has been long heralded a potential transfer target for Sir Alex Ferguson and Manchester United. The 18-year-old centre back burst onto the scene last year as a 17-year-old making 24 appearances and scoring two goals in an unprecedented debut season.
It was easy to see why teams from across Europe would be so keen to keep an eye on the talented and powerful teenage centre-half but nobody has been linked with the player quite like Manchester United.
He has been heralded as a future French international in the making and many a Gallic football fan is purring at the thought of a future centre back pairing of Raphael Varane and Zouma for Les Bleus.
But while Varane has gone from strength to strength this season his contemporary has had something of a more difficult campaign.
Whereas last year he was pretty much assured of regular first-team football on a weekly basis that promise has now been pulled from under him.
The form of Moustapha Bayal Sall has been a revelation since his return from a loan spell with Nancy in February last year and the switch from midfield enforcer to composed central defender has been achieved with aplomb by club captain Loic Perrin.
Zouma has therefore had to sit idly by as the third choice defensive option while Les Verts ascended up the Ligue 1 table with a skip in the step leaving them in with a real shout of Champions League football next season.
For Zouma he has admitted that spending time on the bench after such a promising previous campaign has not been a pleasant feeling; which could be music to the ears of Manchester United fans.
‘’Initially, you're a little upset. When I was on the bench, I said to myself: "Why do I not play?" When I was with the CFA [St Etienne reserve team], I sulked a bit’’
Indeed earlier in March Zouma was asked to play 90 minutes for the reserve team against Colomiers; a game in which they lost 2-0.
However Zouma also spoke positively of his time out the team saying that it had done him good but it did not stop him speculating over his own future.
After admitting his plan was to play regularly this campaign and then move on this summer he now says one more season may be necessary at the Stade Geoffroy-Guichard.
Do you think Manchester United could snap up Kurt Zouma this summer?
image: © Gordon Flood