Saint Etienne defender Kurt Zouma has claimed that Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho made contact with him last month.
Zouma, 19, is set to leave Saint-Etienne at the end of this season and has suggested that a move to Stamford Bridge could be on the cards.
“There was advanced contact last month,” Zouma told L’Equipe. “At the start I thought it was a joke but afterwards I quickly took his call seriously.
“When a great man like Jose Mourinho calls a little player like Kurt Zouma, it’s nice. It doesn’t happen every day and it’s a big sign of respect and confidence.”
The France under-21 international said Mourinho had made a big impression on him, adding: “If you tell me to go to Chelsea, I’ll go there immediately! Especially after the call from the coach. It’s given me ideas.”
Zouma is preparing to return to Ligue 1 action this weekend after serving a 10-game ban for a tackle that broke the leg of Sochaux’s Thomas Geurbert.
Under contract until 2017, the Under-20 World Cup winner says he has an agreement with Saint-Etienne that will allow him to leave this summer.
“I’m playing my third season in Ligue 1,” he said. “In June, it will be time to go and see how things happen elsewhere. Why not a step up in France? For me, Saint-Etienne are already a big club.
“But after that, the top teams are Paris Saint-Germain and Monaco. It would be a good career plan. Abroad, it’s make or break. But it’s a risk worth taking.”
Monaco and Inter Milan are also interested in paying up to 12 million euros for the 6ft 3in centre-back, who says he will think carefully before deciding his next move.
“I won’t necessarily choose according to the league. It will depend on playing time and the state of mind of the coach and the squad.”