Crystal Palace have reportedly agreed a deal to sign 18-year-old Cork City forward Franco Umeh after activating a €75,000 buy-out clause in his contract.

According to Irish Independent correspondent Daniel McDonnell, Cork City’s teenage attacker Franco Umeh is closing in on a move to join Crystal Palace after the Premier League outfit triggered a €75,000 release clause in his contract.

While many of the Premier League clubs, especially the London clubs, have been busy in the window, it has been very quiet around Selhurst Park. Crystal Palace are yet to sign a player, but that is set to change later today with the imminent arrival of VfB Stuttgart midfielder Naouirou Ahamada, who is currently undergoing his medical after a £10.5 million deal was agreed for the 20-year-old.

The Eagles have been patient with their recruitment for the first team, but could look to lure one Irish teenage attacking sensation in the form of Umeh as they look to bolster their youth ranks before the end of the January transfer window.

Cork City are certainly making a reputation for themselves as a conveyor belt of talent. If Umeh joins Crystal Palace, he will become the third player from City’s academy to move to an English club this January, after David Harrington joined Fleetwood Town and Mark O’Mahony signed for Brighton & Hove Albion.

Moreover, Crystal Palace have shopped the Irish market for talented prospects in recent years. Jake O’Brien, who is currently on loan at Belgian side RWD Molenbeek, joined the Eagles on loan from Cork in February 2021 before joining the club permanently the following summer.

Killian Phillips joined Palace from Drogheda United in January 2022, making his first-team debut in the EFL Cup against Oxford United earlier this season before being sent out on loan to Shrewsbury Town. Umeh could soon follow suit. 

The striker joined the club from Ringmahon Rangers in January 2020 and has climbed through the academy ranks, progressing from the Under-15s to the senior squad.

He broke into the Rebel Army’s first team during last year’s First Division title-winning campaign in June, when he made his first team debut against Longford Town, and was handed a professional contract just two months later. Umeh has made three competitive senior appearances as of yet and is a Republic of Ireland youth international.

Several English clubs have been monitoring the Ireland Under-19 international, who turned 18 only last week. But Crystal Palace appear to have won the race for his services after activating the €75,000 clause.

This comes after The Irish Independent recently reported that the Eagles’ scouts were in attendance to watch the player in action in a recent behind-closed-doors friendly against Dundalk on Friday. The speedy striker is being tipped for a bright future, and Palace could see Umeh as a potential long-term addition if he seals a move, as they keep one eye on the future.

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