Premier League duo Crystal Palace and Burnley are among those chasing Colchester United striker Bradley Ihionvien, reports Football Insider’s Pete O’Rourke.
A whole host of clubs from higher divisions are said to be tracking the teenage forward, with Leicester City, Watford and Norwich City leading the interest from the Championship.
The 19-year-old attacker has netted twice in his last three games in League Two, with his impressive performances catching the attention of those further up the pyramid.
A product of the Colchester Academy, Ihionvein made his debut for the U’s in the final game of the 2021/22 season, before spending the first half of the 2022/23 campaign on loan at eighth-tier side Maldon & Tiptree.
The powerful forward fired home three times in 18 matches during his loan spell for the Jammers, but he appears to have adjusted to life well in the fourth tier.
However, it is reported that his contract at the Essex-based club is set to expire at the end of the season, and he looks set to join fellow Academy graduate Junior Tchmadeu in leaving the JobServe Community Stadium this season.
Unlike those aged 24 or above, Ihionvien would not be allowed to leave for free at the conclusion of his contract, as a summer move away would be subject to a transfer tribunal if a fee cannot be agreed between the U’s and any potential suitor.
Colchester have a history of producing sellable assets, with Sammie Szmodics and Kane Vincent-Young earning the League Two side six-figure sums in recent years.
With Ihionvien’s contract expiring and the level of reported interest, it appears that a January departure is on the cards. It is unlikely that they would allow it to go as far as a tribunal, as any valuation would then be non-negotiable.
Garner has made an effort to add youth alongside the experienced options of Tom Hopper and John Akinde, but in showcasing young talent, it has created intense interest in a number of his players.