AFC Wimbledon are preparing to face a battle to keep hold of midfield prospect Leo Castledine amid transfer interest from Premier League giants Chelsea, according to South London Press.
Castledine received a call-up to the England Under 15s side back in October after making excellent progress during his eight seasons in the Dons’ academy, and it now appears his impressive development has caught the attention of the Blues.
The academy talent is the son of former Wimbledon midfielder Stewart Castledine who represented the club for nine years during the 1990s, with Leo also now operating as a midfielder despite initially starting his youth career as a defender.
It appears that Castledine’s international youth call-up has now drawn plenty of attention to his services, with the midfielder now potentially on the move to Chelsea who boast a well-established environment for youth talent to progress their careers.
Blues boss Frank Lampard has placed particular emphasis on the academy since his appointment back in the summer, with the 41-year-old having helped progress the development of players such as Mason Mount, Tammy Abraham and Fikayo Tomori.
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Castledine’s recent international call-up suggests he has a bright future in the game following his encouraging development in the Wimbledon youth system, but it would be a blow for the club to lose his services at this early stage of his progression.
The Dons will be hoping to keep Castledine at the club for the coming seasons in order for him to sign professional terms at the club before featuring for the first team, particularly seeing as this will significantly increase his sell-on value.
Chelsea’s reported interest in the midfielder is certainly testament to Wimbledon’s ability to produce excellent homegrown talent, but they will be hopeful that the Blues do not step up their interest before the Under 15s star signs a professional deal.
The South London club will at least be hoping to raise significant funds from Castledine’s departure after nurturing his development, and it would be somewhat unjust on the League One side if they are not able to do this.