Linfield star wanted by Liverpool and Manchester United as Champions League history beckons
Linfield's 15-year-old sensation Charlie Allen has become the most wanted player in Northern Ireland football with a host of top English and Scottish clubs keen to sign him.
In a further boost for the gifted teenage midfielder, Blues boss David Healy has named him in Linfield's squad for tomorrow night's big Uefa Champions League first qualifying round first leg clash against Rosenborg at Windsor Park.
If Allen features he will break the record for the youngest UK player to ever play in the tournament and become one of the youngest of all time to turn out in club football's most prestigious competition.
Allen, who made his first-team debut for Linfield in their final game of last season at Coleraine, is not 16 until November.
The Belfast Telegraph can reveal that Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, Tottenham and Leicester City are amongst the Premier League clubs interested. Championship outfit Leeds United are also keen, while top-flight Scottish clubs Celtic, Rangers and Aberdeen are monitoring Allen's development.
Linfield Academy director Glenn Ferguson views Allen as "one of the brightest prospects" he has seen and manager Healy rates the Northern Ireland Under-16 ace so highly he took him to Spain for the club's pre-season training camp and played him in friendlies versus Motherwell and St Johnstone in the past few weeks.
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"There's massive interest in Charlie. Glenn Ferguson would tell you that from his work with the Academy and David Healy sees that he is a great talent and wants to aid his development," said Blues chairman Roy McGivern.
"Such is Charlie's talent, he's good enough to go across the water in the future and have his pick of clubs."
Given that Allen is now considered a first team squad member at Linfield, the Blues would expect a tasty fee for the youngster when the time comes.
While Allen makes waves, title winner Michael O'Connor will be making his way out of Windsor Park this week.
Striker O'Connor became a crowd favourite with his all-action style and scored key goals last season as the Blues were crowned champions, but will move on this week.
The 20-year-old has been the subject of interest from Scottish Championship side Dundee, whose assistant manager is Northern Ireland coach Jimmy Nicholl, as well as other professional clubs.
Scottish Premiership side Ross County have also been linked with the forward.
O'Connor was left out of the club's squad for the Champions League first qualifying round first leg game against Rosenborg at Windsor Park tomorrow.
Healy, though, is planning more shrewd signings following on from the exciting arrival of Northern Ireland Under-21 hero Shayne Lavery, who's set to make his competitive Linfield debut against the Norwegians.
Across the city, influential Glentoran midfielder John Herron has signed a new contract to stay at The Oval despite interest from elsewhere.
Also, one-time Glentoran Academy ace Dee Fearon has returned to the club.
The striker netted 17 times in the Championship for Knockbreda last term and adds to the competition up front for Mick McDermott's side.