Arsenal scouting talented teenager amid Man City transfer race despite Brexit issue

Mason Melia, left, and Najemedine Razi of Republic of Ireland celebrate their side's fourth goal, during the UEFA European Under-17 Championship match between Republic of Ireland and Hungary.
-Credit: (Image: Ben McShane - Sportsfile/UEFA via Getty Images)

Arsenal are one of a number of Premier League clubs reportedly keeping a close eye on St Patrick Athletic teenager Mason Melia.

The 16-year-old has caught the eye in Ireland, making his first team debut for the club in the League of Ireland Premier Division this season. The striker has made a total of 20 appearances in all competitions this season, scoring three times.

His rise to the first team at such a young age has not gone unnoticed. According to the Evening Standard, Arsenal scouts have been tracking the player for the past 18-months.

Manchester City and Brighton and Hove Albion are two of the other Premier League clubs taking a look at the teenager. Although there is said to be even more showing an interest.

One problem is that Brexit rules mean that Melia won’t be able to complete a move to the Premier League until after his 18th birthday. That doesn’t come until September 2025, meaning that teams have over a year to wait until any transfer can be finalised.

The teenager signed a professional contract with St Patrick’s Athletic that runs until 2026 and is expected to stay with the club until he is 18-year-old. Although one possibility for any club is for him to move to a ‘sister club’ in mainland Europe before moving to the UK after he turns 18.

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Speaking after the teenager signed his professional contract back in November, St Patrick’s manager Jon Daly said that he had no qualms of putting him into the first team at such a young age.

“I don’t think age is a barrier at this football club. I think if you are good enough, you are old enough. I have always grown up with that,” he said, via the Irish Mirror .

“As a player myself I was given an opportunity at a very young age and it’s my duty as a manager to do the same for players coming through.”

Daly added: “I’m obviously thrilled, yeah, it’s fantastic news for the club for Mason to get his first professional contract and to commit his future to the club for the next three years.

“It’s brilliant for the fans. I think they have seen glimpses this year of what he can do.

“He is going to be a player that everyone will be very much looking forward to seeing over the next couple of years. He’s a fantastic young talent, probably one of the best in the country.

“To have him commit his future to the club is remarkable and we’re looking forward to seeing how he develops over the next few years and watching him grow as a player.”