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Jun 3, 2014

Kurt Zouma: I turned down Man United

Chelsea loaned Kurt Zouma back to St Etienne after signing him from the Ligue 1 club in January 2014.

Kurt Zouma has revealed he rejected an offer from Manchester United to join Chelsea and work with Jose Mourinho.

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The French defender sealed a 12 million-pound move to Stamford Bridge in January, although he was loaned back to his previous club, St Etienne, for the remainder of the season.

But the 19-year-old claims he turned down the Red Devils -- along with Monaco and Inter Milan -- to sign for the Blues.

United are likely to look for a new central defender this summer with both Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic leaving Old Trafford, and Zouma suggested he was wanted by David Moyes, but said Mourinho's influence was crucial in his eventual decision.

"I really wanted to go to Chelsea," the 19-year-old told France Football. "Did I have other offers? Yes, there were Internazionale, Monaco and Manchester United. All those clubs called.

"Monaco was the first to call, with the sport director. I thought about it, but with Mr Mourinho, that is a strong signal.

"I know it is a risky choice, but I wanted to catch that train. I didn't know if I would get that opportunity again. By signing at Chelsea I am keen to reach a new level."

Zouma will link up with Chelsea, who have sold centre-back David Luiz to Paris Saint-Germain, next season and is keen to emulate Raphael Varane, another French defender who Mourinho has coached.

"When I had a phone call from Mourinho, I thought someone was imitating him," he added. "First, I could hardly talk. It is very flattering to have a call from one of the best coaches in the world.

"He told me I have an interesting profile and he wanted to do with me what he did with Raphael Varane at Real Madrid. Thanks to him he became one of the best French defenders.

"When you hear that, you reply yes immediately. Being one of the best French defenders is an objective for me."

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