Ben McLaughlin put pen to paper on a professional contract at Oriel Park last Wednesday but it remains to be seen if he will wear a Dundalk FC shirt again with speculation linking Everton with a bid for the teenage defender.
McLaughlin has made a huge impact since bursting on the scene this season and Dundalk FC Head of Youth Development Martin Connolly said that the club have had contact from a number of clubs in the UK regarding his signature.
“We have had tentative enquiries from a number of clubs and we feel going forward that something may happen. We think it was the best thing to do to protect ourselves as a football club and to protect Ben going forward”, said Connolly.
“From an English clubs point of view, they would prefer to solely do business with a League of Ireland club”, he added. “If Ben was an amateur they would have to deal with the clubs he played with as a schoolboy. That’s not our way of thinking, that’s the way an English club do things.”
Any bid submitted for McLaughlin will be solely discussed by Dundalk FC. If he was still an amateur, any bid would have to be put to his two former schoolboys clubs, Glenmuir and Quay Celtic.
Dundalk FC will pay compensation to both clubs for signing McLaughlin on pro terms but any possible fee received for his services in the future will go straight to the Oriel Park outfit.
Connolly has known McLaughlin since he was a young child and he has no doubt that the talented youngster has all the raw materials needed to go all the way.
“There are always questions when a 17-year-old leaves home for the first-time but I have no doubts about Ben. Knowing his background, I have no fear that he wouldn’t be mature enough to make it.
“Every step he has taken, he has matured. Every game he has played for us, he has got better. I have no doubts that if he goes to England he will continue to develop.”