Ton youngster at centre of transfer fight

Published: 24 Mar 2011 12:001 comment

A TEENAGE Morton youth player is at the centre of a transfer tug-of-war between two Premiership clubs and Celtic, the Tele can reveal.

TRANSFER TUG-OF-WAR: Declan McDaid has attracted interest from Celtic.

MORTON wonderkid Declan McDaid is being tracked by two Premiership clubs - with the club having already knocked back an offer from Celtic.

The talented youngster recently returned from a four-week trial with the Parkhead club, with Ton receiving a verbal offer of £35,000 as a result.

That offer was turned down as it was decided it was in the best of interests of McDaid, 15, to remain at Cappielow while he completes his standard grades.

But that has done little to reduce the excitement surrounding the Dunoon kid - with scouts from Aston Villa and Sunderland having travelled north to watch him play.

Villa have also noted the performances of Steven McAfee, 17, who is training with the Cappielow top team.

Ton's director of youth football John Laird, right, told the Tele: "Declan is an exceptional talent for us - and scouts from Aston Villa and Sunderland have all had a look at him.

"The Sunderland scout was at the game on Sunday against East Fife, so his name is getting about now.

"I would not be exaggerating if I said I have taken in excess of 60 phone calls from Celtic about him after games.

"He's the best young boy we've seen coming out of Inverclyde in a significant number of years and Celtic are clamouring to get him.

"He played for us against the Celtic under-19s and he went on to have a fantastic game - to such an extent that Celtic came to us afterwards to ask about him.

"We told them he was 15 and they were astounded. They asked if he would play against them for the under-17s the next week and we said he would.

"He played really well in that game again, he destroyed their right-back again, and he also scored a great goal.

"Then all of a sudden we received a dozen phone calls from Celtic asking if they could have the boy up and he went to train with them.

"The Villa scout also came to talk to me about Steven McAfee after we had played a game against the Celtic under-19s. Steven played really well in that match and he scored a wonderful goal from about 30 yards."

McDaid sat in the home dug-out at Cappielow for the game against Raith at the weekend as part of a plan by boss Allan Moore to let the club's young players see the first team at close quarters on match days.

And the youngster has impressed the Glasgow giants to the point a potential fee was discussed - although Laird feels the Ton prodigy was under-valued.

He said: "Celtic mentioned a fee of £25,000 to £35,000 to me, but that was a verbal offer. I know they've just bought a boy from Airdrie and paid £90,000.

"That boy played against our under-19s and we were saying that Declan is a much better prospect and is four years younger.

"But we'd rather keep him and help him get into the Morton first-team, and if he was to choose to move on in the future, the club could even receive a higher fee."

Laird was also reluctant to see the teenager sign for Celtic as it would have meant McDaid moving out of his family home in Dunoon just to attend training.

He said: "At the moment, if Celtic want someone like young Declan from Dunoon, they want them to leave their homes and stay in digs and go to school in Glasgow.

"It's a massive step for young boys. We sat down with his family and they want him to get his standard grades out of the way and take it from there."

That decision was made much easier after Ton's assistant boss and former Parkhead defender Mark McNally sat down with McDaid to discuss the proposed move.

Laird added: "Mark had a chat with him and went over the pros and cons of going to a bigger club.

"But he also went over the pros and cons of staying at Morton, and at the moment Declan is quite happy to remain where he is."

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