Leeds United close in on Charlie Allen transfer as highly-rated Linfield star says farewells
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The 16-year-old was given a goodbye party in his hometown of Carrickfergus on Saturday night and is expected in Yorkshire in the next few days, with the Whites hoping to confirm his signing over the next week or so.
Premier League clubs including Liverpool, Manchester City, Chelsea and Spurs took an interest in the teenager, along with Glasgow Rangers, and he visited a number of big clubs but the YEP understands Leeds impressed Allen's family with a detailed dossier on his abilities and achievements in the game.
It is believed Leeds have also had to fend off competition from Leicester City to take pole position in the race to land Allen.
He was included in Healy’s 25-man squad for a Champions League qualifier with Rosenborg last summer and would have made competition history had he featured.
Before Leeds' return to the Premier League was confirmed, Linfield’s academy director Glenn Ferguson expressed his preference for Allen to make a move to Elland Road or to another club outside the top flight, over one of the Premier League giants.
“Charlie over the course of the year has been to Liverpool, Manchester United, Manchester City, Tottenham and Chelsea were interested,” he told The Belfast Telegraph.
“With all due respect, Manchester City can go and get 20 Charlie Allens from across the world.
“He’s maybe better off going to a club like Ipswich or Leeds where someone like Stuart Dallas can take him under his wing.
“If he joins a Championship club like Stuart Dallas and Gavin Whyte did, he can progress from there. They need to be playing football when they do go there.
“The big clubs sound good but only one in 30 of the young players Manchester City might sign will eventually play in the first team.”
Former Ipswich and Northern Ireland midfielder Jim Magilton is the elite performance director for the Irish Football Association, helping to prepare young players for the professional game.
He rates Allen very highly.
“Charlie is one of those boys that you throw him on to the park and go and ask him to play,” he told The YEP.
“[He’ll] play anywhere with the same attitude and enthusiasm.
“Technically very good and physically can handle it – he is quick enough and he has a real chance.
“Great attitude, enthusiastic, and applies himself every day.
“He’s been in full-time academy from September and he’s been excellent.”