Norwich City transfer rumours: Spurs, Chelsea, Celtic and Canaries among clubs battling for Northern Irish prodigy
- Credit: Archant
Norwich City are reportedly among a host of top clubs from England and Scotland chasing the signature of teenage Northern Ireland youth international Charlie Allen.
At just 15 years old the attacking midfielder made his senior debut during the latter stages of last season, playing the final eight minutes of a 1-1 draw at Colraine as Linfield closed on the Danske Bank Premiership title.
He was then involved in pre-season, featuring in friendlies against Scottish sides Motherwell and St Johnstone, and was included in Linfield's 25-man squad for their Champions League qualification tie against Rosenborg but wasn't named on the bench during either leg of the 6-0 aggregate defeat to the Norwegian club.
He started a 5-1 win over East Belfast last month, in the regional County Antrim Shield competition and also came on as a late substitute during two wins over Dungannon Swifts recently, 4-0 in the League Cup and 4-1 in the league.
Allen doesn't turn 16 until November so is in the final year of high school but his name has been doing the rounds recently, with Premier League giants Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, Tottenham and Leicester all linked, as well as Scottish sides Celtic, Rangers and Aberdeen.
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Football Insider report that the youngster has already had a trial and talks with Tottenham and had a trial at Manchester City, with Chelsea also keen to bring him in, but have added Norwich and Southampton to the mix due to their academy pedigree of recent years.
Allen became Linfield's youngest debutant with his appearance in April and has already been capped at under-17 level by his country, having been an integral part of the U16s squad which won a Uefa development tournament on home soil in April, beating Kosovo, Luxembourg and the Faroe Islands.
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Linfield's manager is Northern Ireland's all-time record goal-scorer David Healy, who played for clubs including Preston and Leeds, and had a loan spell with Norwich in 2003 which featured two goals in 13 games.
Speaking to Scottish newspaper the Daily Record about Allen's prospects in July, Healy said: "Charlie was named in the 25-man squad for the Rosenborg game which tells you how much we rate him.
"He's still young, developing and has a lot to learn, but I know, in time, Charlie won't see his 17th or 18th birthday at Linfield. He will be elsewhere. Our plan is to guide him the best way for the next 12 months when he is here.
"He is still at school and hopefully when he does go he will make the right choices and have an incredible full-time career."
VERDICT: It's clear Linfield and Allen's representatives are keen to get their young prospect's name circulating, ahead of his 16th birthday in November, when he could join an English club on a scholarship.
It appears that the teen has already represented Rangers at under-17 level though, helping to win the Alkass International Cup in Qatar in February, in which Roma were beaten in the final on a penalty shoot-out.
That would appear to put the Glasgow giants in the driving seat and with such high level competition, the Canaries could have a battle on their hands to persuade Allen that Norfolk would be the best place for him to develop - if the reported interest is genuine.
However, being able to point to Republic of Ireland Under-21 star Adam Idah being involved in the first team this season, following on from the emergence of Northern Ireland international left-back Jamal Lewis in recent years, as well as England U21 internationals Max Aarons, Todd Cantwell and Ben Godfrey, should certainly help to impress a perspective academy signing.