Manchester City forge links with St Etienne to source talent

Defending Premier League champions developing relationship with Ligue 1 side

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The Independent Football

Manchester City – whose sister clubs in New York and Melbourne are turning them into an international sports franchise – are developing a working relationship with the French side St Etienne, with which Uefa president Michel Platini has strong links.

City representatives were reported to be at the club’s training ground discussing a possible youth-academy partnership. A link with the Ligue 1 side – who have a reputation for developing top talents, including Chelsea’s Kurt Zouma – could give the Premier League champions an advantage in  the pursuit of French talent.

It would also bring them into contact with Platini, who has retained his links with the club he played for from 1979-83. City’s relationship with Uefa has been difficult in the past few years, with the club unhappy at being found to have failed Uefa’s Financial Fair Play. A stronger link with Platini would be valuable.

Reports in France suggested there might be preferential treatment for City when pursuing the purchase or loan of St Etienne academy products. The club are currently trialling Manchester City midfielder Divine Yelsarmba Naah, the Ghanaian 18-year-old who recently returned from a loan at Stromsgodset.

City said on Wednesday the links between the clubs were based on relationships between their scouts but that no formal alliance was yet planned.

Meanwhile, Aston Villa are back in the running to sign Manchester City winger Scott Sinclair after resuming talks over a possible move for the player, who has struggled to fit in at the Etihad.

Villa manager Paul Lambert said last week any deal for Sinclair was dead but it has now been revived, with a loan the most likely outcome. Sinclair has made just three starts since signing from Swansea in 2012.