Exciting Irish prospect Aaron Connolly has taken another massive step forward after extending his contract at Brighton and Hove Albion until the end of the 2021/22 season.
The Oranmore teenager has proved somewhat of a hot shot for the south coast side's Under 23 side over the last couple of seasons, having crossed the Irish Sea to join up with the Premier League side in June 2016. He had previously been turning out for Mervue United at underage level.
The striker, who has scored an impressive 17 goals in 19 games this year, including a hat-trick in the Seagulls EFL Trophy victory over MK Dons, made his senior competitive debut for Chris Hughton's side in the EFL Cup win over Barnet last season, becoming the first player born post-millennium to play for Albion in the process.
He has also featured on a handful of occasions for Tom Mohan's U19 international starlets, scoring in the equaliser in a 1-1 draw with Slovakia last March.
Connolly's performances in Premier League 2 have generated interest amongst a rake of English league clubs, who have approached Brighton with a view to taking the hitman in on loan, with heavy hitters Celtic, Manchester United and Manchester City all reportedly keeping an eye on the 19-year-old.
Having put pen to paper earlier this afternoon, Connolly spoke of the boost it was to his confidence.
The length of the deal shows the trust that the club has in me and that means a lot, it shows they have faith in me at the age of 19 – I want to stay here for as long as I can and make the first team, playing in front of the fans every week.
Despite having not been selected for any match-day squads, the youngster did travel with the first-team for the Premier League match against Cardiff City in November, and it's something that he's looking forward to doing again in a hurry.
I’ve had the taste of being around the first team squad this year, whilst still featuring for the under-23s, and it’s something I want more of. Travelling with a Premier League squad is great and hopefully we can all keep pushing on.