Reading Football Club have beaten the likes of Manchester United and Arsenal to securing the future of teenage goalkeeper Coniah Boyce-Clarke.
The 16-year-old has been a major asset of the Royals’ academy this season and played in a number of Under-23 games. Among them was the Berks & Bucks Cup semi-final at Maidenhead United, where his penalty shootout heroics sent his team to the final.
On Wednesday, the club confirmed Boyce-Clarke has agreed to sign a professional deal until 2023 when he turns 17 - a wait that is legally required.
This is a very useful moment for Reading as it shows the club can keep hold of its biggest young talents despite the ease at which major teams can pick them off. If Boyce-Clarke would have wanted to, he could have signed for any other team with a tribunal deciding the (often minimal) fee.
And the England Under-16 international was indeed a wanted man. United and Arsenal were among the names linked and Boyce-Clarke, still doing his GCSEs, apparently wants a shot at first-team football sooner rather than later.
Reading have also confirmed the signature of Claudio Gomes Osorio in a similar agreement that comes into effect when he turns 17 in September. His deal runs to June 2022.
Finally, youngsters Nelson Abbey and Malachi Talent-Aryeetey have been offered academy scholarships that also contains an agreement to turn professional.