Stoke City starlet Nathan Collins has been the subject of considerable transfer interest this season, especially in the January transfer window.
It’s believed that Premier League side Burnley made bids for the Ireland international that month, with the Potters turning down an initial offer of £4.5 million for the teenager, per the Burnley Express.
Alan Nixon then reported that the Clarets went back with another increased bid in the region of £7.5 million, but that was also turned down by the Championship club.
Arsenal and Crystal Palace were also rumoured to be tracking the 19-year-old and you’d have to imagine that there will be more summer interest in Collins.
Let’s take a look at one winner and one loser should the Potters cash in on Collins this summer.
WINNER: Tommy Smith
Michael O’Neill has switched between a 4-2-3-1 and a 3-5-2 system this season, often using Collins at right-back when he decides to play with four defenders, with the teenager proving to have good versatility.
Smith has played 27 times this season so it’s perhaps a reach to say he’s a winner in all of this, but Collins being sold would make that right-back spot his own for the foreseeable future – providing O’Neill doesn’t target a new one with funds given to him from the sale.
A solid, dependable defender, Smith still has years ahead of him as a 28-year-old and whilst he won’t be praying for Stoke to cash in on Collins, his minutes next season may depend on it.
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LOSER: Michael O’Neill
O’Neill, like everyone at Stoke, wants to keep his best players, and whilst the Potters are a well-run club, they still hold some big wages from their Premier League days on the books.
And that may mean, especially with finances being the way they are due to COVID-19, that any big offers for Collins – especially if his head is turned by the Premier League – have to be accepted.
With top flight interest rumbling in Collins’ centre-back colleague Harry Souttar as well, it could be a very uncomfortable summer for O’Neill if he loses not one, but two of his most significant assets.