Zouma and Clément sign contract extensions
Saint-Etienne have been boosted by young defender Kurt Zouma and experienced midfielder Jérémy Clément penning contract extensions.
18-year-old Zouma became a world champion with France's Under-20s this summer and has attracted rave reviews since making his debut as a 16-year-old back in 2011. The powerful centre-half - tracked by leading clubs across the continent - is now tied to Les Verts until 2017.
Zouma: "I'm very happy"
Zouma said: "I'm very happy. ASSE is the club that had faith in me and helped me to grow as a player. I'm still a young defender. Last season I had a few small physical problems and I need to build my career here. Working with the coach, I'm sure I'll be able to progress."
Clément's return from a fractured ankle sustained against Nice in March has been one of the heart-warming aspects of the start to the new campaign. The former PSG and OL midfielder has been at Saint-Etienne since 2011 and signed his new deal, which runs until 2016, on his 29th birthday. Clément was forced to sit out last season's Coupe de la Ligue trophy success because of his horrific injury.
Clément said: "I'm touched by the confidence the club has in me. I'll do my best to help ASSE win another trophy. Even if I've had some tougher times than other players might have, I'm focused on the future. I hope the club will continue to progress in order to entrench it in the top third of the Ligue 1 table."
The extensions are timely for Saint-Etienne after the 1-0 Ligue 1 loss at Lille followed hard upon the 4-3 loss to Danish Cup holders Esbjerg in the first leg of the Europa League play-offs. The return takes place at the Stade Geoffroy-Guichard on Thursday.
Coach Christophe Galtier said: "I'm satisfied that Jérémy Clément is back playing competitive football. He's not at his best yet but he'll lift his team-mates. Kurt Zouma's extension highlights the work done with our youth system and the stability at the club. It also proves that we can keep good players in France."