United target can leave
By Patrick Haond. Last Updated: January 1, 1970 1:00am
St Etienne insist Manchester United target Didier Zokora will not leave the club in January but will be allowed to move next summer.
Zokora has emerged as a leading candidate to replace Roy Keane at Old Trafford, with the United captain due to quit the club at the end of the season.
Ivory Coast international Zokora has established himself as one of the most respected holding midfielders in European football, and has also caught the eye of Premiership champions Chelsea.
Atletico Madrid are also monitoring the 24-year-old, who has acknowledged the interest from England.
Reports have suggested that United will look to bring Zokora across The Channel when the transfer window reopens in the New Year.
But St Etienne are not prepared to listen to any offers for the anchor man over the winter, despite setting a price for Zokora, which is believed to be é¼11.5 million (£8 million).
The French outfit, though, concede they would be prepared to sell Zokora at the end of the campaign, providing their asking price is met.
"We have received no offers yet, so we have to take care," St Etienne chairman Bernard Caiazzo told But!.
"Anyway it is out of the question to transfer Didier before the end of the season.
"Our midfield is very outstanding, perhaps the best in France, alongside Lyon's. We don't want to weaken it.
"We promised Didier he will be able to leave in June and we will keep our word if a club proposes what we want.
"A minimum fee has been set. Under that sum, we will not talk."