Premier League sides are reportedly battling for Irish U19 striker Jonathan Afolabi following his impressive performances at the European Championships for the Boys in Green.
Afolabi has been without a club since his release from Southampton earlier this year, but had been one of Ireland’s standout performers at the Euros in Armenia as Tom Mohan’s side reached the last four.
According to a report in the Football.London, both Crystal Palace and newly promoted Aston Villa are vying for the 19-year old’s signature with Palace already reportedly offering Afolabi a contract.
Palace have struggled in the centre-forward position over the last couple of seasons with the likes of Christian Benteke and Conor Wickham failing to deliver consistently in front of goal.
This could mean that Afolabi woule get a greater chance at first team football at Selhurst Park with Hodgson and Palace thought to be the frontrunners.
The report also outlines that Villa are looking at the young striker to bolster their options up top while clubs in Russia and Spain have also expressed an interest in Afolabi.
The former Saints man scored in Ireland’s victory over the Czech Republic on Sunday as they reached the semi-finals of the Euros and impressed in the three games in featured in thanks to his workrate and natural attacking ability.
Afolabi missed Ireland’s crucial semi-final against Portugal thanks to a dubious suspension but his displays in Armenia caught the eye of many including Irish U21s boss Stephen Kenny who spoke to Pundit Arena about his admiration for the 19-year old.
“One of the things that has been a plus is the form of Jonathan Afolabi,” said Kenny.
“He’s been one of the best centre-forwards in the tournament without a doubt.
“A lot of players when they’re released from clubs it’s quite complex. Human emotion is what it is, some people maybe come home, get deflated and give up football.
“They fall out of love with the game for a year, it takes them sometimes a year to get the motivation back to get back playing. Jonathan has taken a setback but he hasn’t allowed that setback to set him back.
“He’s been very determined to show his quality and I think that was evident in Russia in the qualifying campaign, he was very prominent and I think he’s shown everyone a great example of how to react when you have been let go. He’s been exceptional.”