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Jose Mourinho delivers his verdict on Saint-Etienne defender William Saliba amid Man United links

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William Saliba (left) has been linked with Manchester United (Picture: Getty)

Jose Mourinho has given a ringing endorsement to reported Manchester United transfer target William Saliba by suggesting he has all the tools to become a top player.

The 18-year-old has enjoyed a breakthrough campaign with Saint-Etienne making 15 appearances in Ligue 1 and he has already been compared to Real Madrid’s Raphael Varane.

Reports in France back in March claimed that United were leading the chase to sign Saliba with Saint-Etienne valuing the defender at £25m.

Mourinho has taken a keen interest in French football since his sacking by United in December and this week backed his former club’s reported pursuit of Lille forward Nicolas Pepe.

Jose Mourinho has hailed William Saliba’s potential (Picture: Getty)

And Pepe isn’t the only player based in Ligue 1 to have caught Mourinho’s eye with the Portuguese likening Saliba to one of his former players at Chelsea, Kurt Zouma, who also came through at Saint-Etienne.

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Speaking about Saliba, Mourinho said: ‘I think he has everything needed to become a good player, much like Kurt Zouma, who I signed.’

Following a dismal end to the season, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is expected to be busy in the transfer market this summer and he has identified a host of young players as potential recruits.

United have been linked with moves for Ryan Sessegnon and Sean Longstaff recently, while Jadon Sancho, Declan Rice and Aaron Wan-Bissaka are longer-term targets.

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Saliba – a France Under-19 international – is another player with considerable potential who could be developed further at Old Trafford although he signed a new four-year deal with Les Verts last month.

Speaking about his contract extension, Saliba said: ‘I am very happy to extend my adventure with St Étienne, the club where I came up from as a youngster.

‘I want to thank all my youth coaches and everyone who has contributed to my progression at this club.’

Mourinho meanwhile has earmarked a return to management in July although he refused to confirm where his next destination will be.

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