EXCLUSIVE by Pete O’Rourke

Celtic are targeting a move for highly-rated Southampton youngster Jonathan Afolabi, Football Insider sources understands.

The 18-year-old, who joined Southampton from Irish side St. Josephs Boys in 2016, is highly-regarded regarded at St Mary’s and is seen one of the best young prospects in the club’s academy.

Afolabi has yet to make his first-team debut for Southampton, but he has impressed for the club’s Under-18s and Under-23s sides in the last 18 months.

The Republic of Ireland Under-19 international is out of contract in the summer and a number of clubs at home and abroad have been monitoring his situation.

Celtic scouts have been keeping a close eye on Afolabi’s progress for club and country for some time and they see him as a potential star in the making.

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The Scottish giants could look to agree a pre-contract deal with Afolabi in January or could try and sign him for a nominal fee knowing Southampton would get minimal compensation for him in the summer due to cross border regulations.

Celtic could offer Afolabi a quicker pathway to first-team football than he is likely to get at Southampton with the youngster still well down the pecking order at the Premier League club.