Irish U21 defender Nathan Collins is reportedly being monitored by Premier League clubs Arsenal and Chelsea with the Blues said to be the closest to making a move for him.
The Stoke City defender made his first team debut aged just 17 and has featured nine times in the league this season for the Championship club, even captaining them in August when they faced Leeds United.
According to a report by the Irish Sun, Chelsea are thought to be the closest to making a move for Collins with Arsenal also interested.
The 18-year-old has impressed whenever he has featured for Stoke’s first team, with Manchester United said to have been interested in his signature during the summer.
Collins is also a part of the Irish U21 setup and made his debut for Stephen Kenny’s side in their victory over Armenia in November.
The towering defender had been a more frequent face in the first team at Stoke under former boss Nathan Jones, however he made his first league start under Michael O’Neill in January, keeping a clean sheet and impressing in their 0-0 draw against Blackburn.
Collins though outlined following the game that he understood O’Neill’s decision not to give him much first team action and was nevertheless ready when his opportunity arrived.
“I was delighted and couldn’t wait to play. I just wanted the game to be straight away. I just wanted to play.
“Of course I’ve wanted to play but there’s no point me moaning about it, I need to be supportive and help the lads, especially considering the place we’re in. They don’t need anything like that.
“I just tried to make sure that I was ready whenever I was needed.
“I’ve always been pushing in training and when my name got called I was ready.”
Collins was also called up to the Irish senior side by Mick McCarthy in August, however after making the provisional squad, he dropped back down to the U21 setup.
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