EXCLUSIVE By Pete O’Rourke
Aston Villa are locked in a battle with Brentford and other clubs to sign prolific young Southend United striker Charlie Kelman, Football Insider sources understands.
Kelman, 16, is regarded as one of the best youth talents in the country following his goalscoring exploits for Southend age-group sides and his potential has brought him to the attention of a number of Premier League and Championship sides.
A well-placed source told Football Insider that Villa and Brentford scouts have been keeping tabs on Kelman for some time and several other interested sides from the Premier League and Championship are expected to watch the teenager in action for Southend in this week’s FA Youth Cup clash with Leyton Orient.
Villa boss Dean Smith is ready to battle against his former club Brentford to land the rising star.
Southend are yet to offer Kelman a pro deal with the lightning-quick striker turning 17 next month and his suitors higher up the football pyramid are readying moves to try and lure away the exciting talent once he turns 17.
The 16-year-old forward scored a stunning 61 goals last season and he has already netted eight goals so far this season.
Kelman’s form saw him called up to the U.S. Under-18 men’s national team in the summer and he made a goalscoring debut for Southend’s Under-23s side earlier this month.
In other Aston Villa talks, the club have made a move to sign a Sheffield Wednesday ace as talks over a deal have begun.