By Pete O'Rourke, Transfer Correspondent

29th Apr, 2023 | 7:00pm

Sources: Arsenal and Celtic lead race to sign Makhaya James

Arsenal and Celtic lead the race to sign Colchester’s teenage sensation Makhaya James, sources have told Football Insider.

James, 17, has been a stand-out performer in the youth ranks at Colchester and his potential has alerted top clubs.

The left-back is yet to play for Colchester’s first-team, but he has wowed scouts with his performances for the club’s Under-21s this season.

Celtic and Arsenal are among those keeping regular checks on James and are in pole position to sign him ahead of the summer.

A number of other clubs are also keen and Colchester are bracing themselves for offers for the defender.

James signed for The U’s on a two-year scholarship deal last summer (2022) after flourishing as part of the Kinetic Academy for talents aged 14-19.

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He has already gained experience playing men’s football after turning out for non-league Glebe FC in the 2021-22 campaign.

Celtic are seeking to bolster their youth ranks with signings from England after losing several of their top talents to clubs south of the border.

Football Insider revealed last month (30 March) that the Hoops have accepted a £1.2million bid from Aston Villa for teenage midfielder Aidan Borland.

Stars like Ben Doak, Eseosa Sule, Josh Adam and Armstrong Oko-Flex have all departed for clubs in England’s top two divisions in recent seasons.

Meanwhile, Arsenal are keen to bolster their youth ranks despite reaching the FA Youth Cup final this season – where they were beaten 5-1 by West Ham.

Bukayo Saka, Folarin Balogun, Emile Smith Rowe and Reiss Nelson are among the most impressive graduates from the Gunners’ academy in recent years.

In other news, Celtic brace for £15million striker bid.