By Pete O'Rourke

18th Feb, 2020 | 5:00pm

Exclusive: Fulham hijack Leeds bid to sign young defender from PL giants

Fulham have stolen a march on Leeds United in the race to sign Chelsea rising star Ashley Akpan, Football Insider can reveal.

The defender, who turned 16 earlier this month, has undergone a trial at Leeds’ Thorp Arch headquarters as well as spent time at Huddersfield.

A Fulham source has told Football Insider that the club are well placed to beat their Championship rivals to a deal for Akpan with a transfer hijack.

Akpan has been invited to the Cottagers’ Motspur Park training base this week and will be assessed by their youth-team coaches.

The teenager, who has been at Chelsea since he was 10, is keeping his options open as to his next club.

This comes after Football Insider revealed last month that Akpan has been informed he will not be offered a scholarship deal at Stamford Bridge.

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Akpan had appeared well placed to progress from schoolboy terms but he is now set to continue his career elsewhere.

Chelsea have granted him permission to find a new team even though he remains on their books for the time being.

Akpan is predominantly a defender but he can also play in midfield and his pedigree is such that he has been capped by Poland at Under-15 level.

The rising star, who is eligible to play for Nigeria and England as well as Poland, is regarded as an attractive proposition by the leading Championship clubs due to his versatility and potential.

In other Leeds United news, it can be REVEALED that big fans favourite is likely to quit the club after contract talks hit the buffers.