St-Etienne have confirmed that Manchester City are seeking a partnership with them which could establish a production line of young French stars for the Premier League side.
The Independent reported last month that City representatives had been at the French club’s Centre de l’Étrat training ground, discussing a possible academy partnership agreement. The St-Etienne co-president, Bernard Caiazzo, has now confirmed that their sporting director, Dominique Rocheteau, has met City on a number of occasions to discuss a link-up.
“It all looks very serious. City have been impressed by our talent for producing players of Champions League standard. These people are willing to work in depth,” Caiazzo said.
Prime benefits to City include a chance to sign players of the type St-Etienne have produced in the past few years – Chelsea defender Kurt Zouma, Napoli left-back Faouzi Ghoulam and Atletico Madrid midfielder Josuha Guilavogui are all products of the French side’s academy – and a chance of Ligue 1 games on loan for some of their own academy players.
The Under-21 Premier League has not been of a high enough standard for City’s elite development squad to be prepared for first-team action in the Premier League and City have had to look to place their young players overseas.
With City’s academy manager, Patrick Vieira, acutely aware of the best French talent, the club have had a keen interest in that area. Vieira was involved three years ago in the pursuit of one of France’s top youngsters – the then 16-year-old Le Havre midfielder Olivier Ntcham, who is now in the City elite development squad.
There is a sense in France that City may get preferential treatment under the partnership if they pursue the purchase or loan of St-Etienne academy products.
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