There is no doubt that Brexit has changed the face of Irish football. If you are seeking evidence of that, then look no further than the Republic of Ireland squad currently playing at the U17 European Championships.
Colin O'Brien's 20-man squad features 18 players who ply their trade in the League of Ireland, something that is very unlikely to have been the case in years gone by. Our most talented youngsters used to be able to make the move to English football at 16 in the past, something that has now been pushed out to 18 as a result of the UK leaving the European Union.
As a result, League of Ireland clubs have been handed a greater responsibility in nurturing these talents.
It has also resulted is some players looking a bit further afield for their next move. Italy has become a popular destination, with the likes of Cathal Heffernan and Kevin Zefi shining for AC Milan and Inter respectively.
You can expect that trend to continue over the coming years, with one star of that U17 squad drawing interest from the continent.
Mason Melia reportedly drawing interest from top German clubs
Despite him being only 15-years old, a lot of Irish fans are starting to stand up and take notice of Mason Melia.
The forward became the youngest player to play for St Pat's in the League of Ireland earlier this month and is now performing on the international stage.
He scored two goals and assisted a couple more in Ireland's 4-2 victory over Hungary on Wednesday, a result that secured their place in the quarter-finals.
MASON MELIA 🇮🇪(2007) AT THE DOUBLE TO DOUBLE THE LEAD!!!!
IKE ORAZI 🇮🇪🇳🇬(2007) WITH THE BEAUTIFUL ASSIST!!!#U17Euro pic.twitter.com/YloiiWQ0Nd
— Football Report (@FootballReprt) May 23, 2023
The Irish Mirror are reporting that 'top German clubs' are closely tracking Mason Melia, with an eye to signing him in the near future. We believe a few of these clubs plays Champions League football.
It is said that Liverpool are also in the hunt for his signature, although that move would be put off until 2026 due to Brexit. As a result, clubs on the continent may feel that they have a march on their English rivals.
St Pat's will no doubt look to keep hold of Melia for now and will negotiate a very attractive financial package when he does eventually move on.
For now, the player will be concentrating on Ireland Euro quarter-final against Spain on Saturday.