Fulham youngster Matt O’Riley has emerged as the latest English prospect to be coveted by a host of Europe’s top sides.
Tonight’s Evening Standard reports that Juventus and Borussia Dortmund are among the leading contenders for O’Riley, who was tracked by Arsenal and Manchester United before signing professional terms with Fulham in November last year. Shakhtar Donetsk and Valencia are also keen on the playmaker, who can play both in an advanced role and as a deep-lying playmaker.
The 17-year-old is considered one of the brightest products in a Fulham academy that has made a habit of producing top prospects both for the Cottagers and elsewhere, with Ryan Sessegnon and Moussa Dembele among those who have gone on to big things.
O’Riley made his senior debut at the age of just 16 and has continued on an impressive trajectory this season, featuring in the first-team’s 3-1 win over Millwall in the EFL Cup and impressing in Fulham’s Under-23 side in Premier League 2 action.
That has been noted by a clutch of Europe’s biggest names and Fulham are believed to be aware of Juventus’ interest in the youngster.
O’Riley’s current contract runs until 2020 and he is prepared to stay and fight for a more regular opportunity in the Fulham first team, whose recent struggles have led to growing pressure on head coach Slavisa Jokanovic.
However were he to find himself on the peripheries of the first-team come the end of the season the lure of powerhouses from abroad would be tough to reject. Fulham would be reluctant to lose O’Riley but if they fail to tie him down to a new contract would face the prospect of losing the midfielder for a nominal fee if he went abroad.
Dortmund have been keen to snare the brightest youngsters in the English academy system for some time. Jadon Sancho’s (below) form with the Bundesliga giants has already earned him a call-up to Gareth Southgate’s senior squad and the German club have also been linked with Chelsea’s 17-year-old forward Callum Hudson-Odoi.
A move to Turin would see O’Riley link up with former Arsenal striker Stephy Mavididi in the Italian champions’ U23 side, who ply their trade in Serie C. Whether a move to a more physical league such as the Italian third tier would be in the best interests of the young playmaker remains a matter for some debate.