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Although he is reportedly drawing very strong interest from Liverpool, 14-year-old goalkeeper Conner Byrne is now on trial at Leeds United and may have a decision to make in the New Year.
Almost unbelievably, the youngster has now already made his first-team debut for Glenavon after he was chosen to play in the semi-final of the Mid-Ulster Cup. After this, it was reported Liverpool were really interested in taking him to Anfield to continue his education but Leeds have managed to nip in ahead of them by giving him a trial.
Liverpool are not alone in their pursuit of Byrne in terms of Premier League clubs either. Everton, Manchester United and Tottenham have all been alerted to the talents of the young ‘keeper, with various scouts in attendance to watch him in recent weeks.
Only one club has made a move though, and it’s not one of the Premier League giants, with news of Byrne’s trial at Leeds having been leaked on social media. Glenavon’s chairman Adrian Teer has already gone public with the fact that there has been plenty of interest in Byrne from various English clubs, adding that he is a great prospect.
Following new owner Andrea Radrizzani’s takeover, Leeds United have put an even greater focus than normal on strengthening their youth set-up and snapped up 16-year-old forward Ryan Edmondson from York City last month. The fact that they are in the Championship may actually help them to entice more top young talents to the club.
The Premier League is terrific as a package for people watching in the Far East or for those who happen to support one of the top few clubs in England but generally, it has been a graveyard for young English-speaking talents in recent times.
The strength in depth of these squads means managers simply cannot afford to give league appearances to young players, as one mistake could mean a defeat, something which negatively affects the club and the player.
I don’t mean to be all doom and gloom though; this could well mean a further strengthening of England’s second-tier in the short to medium term but only if players of Byrne’s calibre are willing to play at that level instead of being attracted by the so called big clubs.
It would be no surprise to be watching Premier League football in a year or two’s time and be watching Ronaldo Vieira, Marcus Tavernier, Conor Coady and Ruben Neves starring.