Birmingham City ground St Andrew's

17-year-old Birmingham City defender Rico Browne is the subject of interest from both Tottenham and West Ham; however, it is believed West Ham are in ‘pole position’ to seal the youngster’s signature.

Browne was recently given permission by Birmingham City to go on trial at West Ham United. The trial started on Monday and he is expected to feature in youth team games while coaches assess his performance.  

The centre-back also spent a period on loan at Tottenham recently, but nothing was agreed at the time. Football Insider, however, has revealed that Spurs have now made a verbal contract offer.

As a written contract is yet to be presented, Spurs have left the door wide open for West Ham to make the deal should Browne impress their coaches this week.

Browne is highly thought of at Birmingham and is widely considered one of the club’s leading youth talents. But, with the club looking likely to follow Brentford’s lead, disbanding their academy and focusing on the controversial B team model, Browne has little option but to follow other promising talents out of the door.

15-year-old Callum Scanlon was sold to Liverpool last December for a fee of around £500,000. The young full-back was unprepared to sign a scholarship with the Blues given the uncertainty surrounding the future of the academy.

Birmingham City CEO Xuandong Ren outlined his intentions with regards to the club’s academy in a recent interview.

“The reform we mentioned earlier this year is solely focused on the older group,” Ren said.

“The academy has done a fantastic job over the years for the younger groups but because we have been in a category two status for many years, the intensity of the league for the older groups, under 18s and under 23s, doesn’t prepare them enough to be Championship ready.

“That’s where our reform status lies. If we get the category one status, we will be investing more in the older groups.”

He added: “We were never breaking away from the academy system. Maybe there is a possibility that if we don’t get category one status, we will be setting up another reserve team outside the academy system.

“For example, we would call that Blues B team and would be competing with Championship-like teams all through the year to get the players ready to step up.”

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