Belfast Telegraph

Joel Cooper set for three-year deal at Linfield while title challengers close in on Aaron Burns

By Graham Luney

Glenavon winger Joel Cooper is set to join Linfield in the summer.

The Northern Ireland Under-21 international has signed a pre-contract agreement with the Blues for a three-year deal from next season.

Other top Danske Bank Premiership clubs were chasing Cooper's signature, but the documents have been lodged with the Irish FA and the 21-year-old is Windsor Park-bound at the end of this campaign.

Glenavon turned down a bid for the player from Linfield but they are destined to lose his services in a few months.

It's a shrewd bit of transfer business by Blues boss David Healy as Cooper remains one of the most gifted young players in the Premiership.

In July 2015, Glenavon saw off competition from other clubs to land the winger from Ballyclare Comrades on a two-year contract.

With his current contract due to expire in the summer, Linfield sought permission to hold talks with the player, and those negotiations have led to a three-year deal.

Cooper's class shone through at Mourneview Park, alerting other clubs such as Bristol City and Sligo Rovers, and he was flown to France to accompany Northern Ireland in training ahead of their opening Euro 2016 match with Poland.

The Irish Cup final triumph over Linfield in 2016 was a major highlight, but in August last year it emerged the player was heading to the USA on a scholarship.

Cooper, a lifelong Glenavon fan who started attending games with his grandfather, confirmed he was heading to the University of New Hampshire, but he returned to Northern Ireland and the Glenavon side at the end of last year.

Lurgan Blues chairman Adrian Teer was unavailable for comment last night.

Gary Hamilton's side are at Windsor Park tomorrow in a big Danske Bank Premiership clash.

Meanwhile, Linfield midfielder Aaron Burns could move to Coleraine if he agrees terms with the Bannsiders.

It is understood a fee for the player has been agreed with Linfield and Coleraine manager Oran Kearney keen to seal the deal.

The 25-year-old, whose current deal expires in the summer, hasn't been offered a new contract by the Blues, alerting a number of clubs including Cliftonville.

The Banbridge man scored 91 goals in 273 appearances for the Big Two giants.

Coleraine and Crusaders have both expressed an interest in signing Warrenpoint Town striker Darren Murray, who is reported to have handed in a transfer request.

Carrick Rangers last night confirmed the loan signing of Eamon Scannell from Linfield as well as the arrival of striker Darren Henderson from Portadown.

And goalkeeper Conor Brennan, who was released by Ballymena United, has joined Greenock Morton until the end of the season.

Belfast Telegraph


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