Cork City’s teenage attacker Franco Umeh is on the verge of joining Crystal Palace after the Premier League club activated a €75,000 release clause in his contract.
Several English clubs have been monitoring the Ireland U19 international, who broke into City’s first-team in last year’s First Division title-winning campaign in June, and he’s a free path to the UK having turned 18 last week.
Paddy McCarthy, the former Ireland U21 captain who is Palace’s U23 lead coach, watched the pacey forward in action when visiting Abbotstown for City’s pre-season friendly against Dundalk and sanctioned a deal to secure the talent.
Umeh follows the same path as previous City Academy graduate Jake O’Brien and Drogheda United’s Killian Phillips by swapping the League of Ireland for the London outfit. It is understood the player has visited the club this week to finalise his part of the deal.
As has become the norm, a clause was inserted in the first professional contract the teen signed last August setting a minimum transfer fee of €75,000.
Ringmahon Rangers, the schoolboy club he left at 15 to join the Rebels, will receive a portion under compensation protocols and a number of milestone add-ons are provided for within the terms.
Only last week, City lost another teen, striker Mark O’Mahony, to Brighton and Hove Albion in a similar arrangement, while first-choice goalkeeper David Harrington has joined Fleetwood Town in England’s League One.
City boss Colin Healy has attempted to fill the gaps and strengthen for life back in the Premier Division by adding Swedish pair Kevin Čustović and Albin Winbo, strike pair Ethon Varian and Tunde Owolabi, as well as Celtic goalkeeper Tobi Oluwayemi, but additional recruits are expected.
The Rebels open their campaign on Friday fortnight, February 17, by welcoming Bohemians to Turners Cross for a game that will be televised live on RTÉ 2.