Thursday, March 30, 2017
Exclusive: Tottenham interest in top Crystal Palace striker prospect

Exclusive: Tottenham interest in top Crystal Palace striker prospect

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Crystal Palace youngster Francis Baptiste is attracting interest from Tottenham Hotspur.

The 16-year-old has been with the Eagles since the age of 12, and was given his under-18 debut by boss Ken Gillard in January, notching his first goal in a 4-3 away defeat by Brentford later that month.

He was awarded the golden boot following his goalscoring exploits in the IFA Shield – a tournament for which Palace sent an U19 side to India during February – finishing top scorer as his side were knocked out on penalties in the semi-finals.

The striker notched a hat-trick in the knockout stages of the Calcutta tournament, and appears to have caught the eye of watching scouts in the U16 campaign last season.

Amid the interest from Spurs, Baptiste is yet to feature for Palace this season, and was not even named on the bench for the opening day victory over Sheffield Wednesday. He has been offered a scholarship but it is unclear whether he has penned the deal on the table to him.

Palace will hope that the striker rejects any overtures from north London, and follows in the footsteps of midfielder Kian Flanagan, who was the subject of interest from Arsenal, Chelsea and West Ham, also rejecting an offer from Manchester United last season, to agree a professional contract with the Eagles.

The 16-year-old who was man of the match in the young Eagles’ opening day victory, scored a wondergoal in their 2-2 draw at Leeds United on Saturday, and will sign professional terms on his 17th birthday next week.

Meanwhile, Palace have England U16 international Nya Kirby on trial following his decision to turn down an offer of a scholarship from Spurs. He has previously trialled with Arsenal and Chelsea but no deal was agreed with either club.

The 16-year-old featured for the Eagles in their pre-season match at Farnborough, and was named on the bench for the U23s match at Nottingham Forest last week – the starting line-up containing a number of first-teamers, with highly-rated 17-year-old Luke Dreher as captain.

Former Palace defender Richard Shaw has taken over as U23 manager from Gary Issott – who has reverted back to a position with the U18 side, but still remains academy director.

Kirby’s wage demands could prove to be a stumbling block in the event that Palace firm up their interest in the youngster.

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Exclusive: Tottenham interest in top Crystal Palace striker prospect