Meet the League One gem who snubbed Real Madrid and £1m offer to join Bellingham | Football | Sport

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Brighton have gained a reputation for signing some of the most exciting youngsters in world football, and they may have struck gold in the January transfer window. The Seagulls secured a deadline-day deal to sign Caylan Vickers from Reading, despite interest from around Europe.

Vickers came through the Reading academy and was thrown in at the deep end earlier this season in League One. The forward was handed his first-team debut in August against Peterborough, making an instant impact to highlight why he is such a well-regarded prospect.

The teenager went on to make 14 EFL appearances for Reading, scoring one in 619 minutes of football. With Reading’s financial struggles no secret around Europe, Vickers was heavily linked with a move to numerous top sides.

Real Madrid were among the teen’s biggest suitors, with The Sun reporting that the Spanish side had held talks with Reading during December over a £1million move to the Santiago Bernabeu. The La Liga outfit had mapped out a plan to the forward that would have seen him join their B team and gradually integrated into the first team, with the chance to link up with Jude Bellingham and Vinicius Jr.

Arsenal and Celtic were also cited as Vickers’ suitors, though a deal was never reached with any of the aforementioned sides. Instead, the forward opted to join Brighton for an undisclosed fee.

The Seagulls provided the teenager with a clear pathway to first-team football and he put pen to paper on a three-and-a-half-year deal with the club. Vickers will be hoping to make his mark under Roberto De Zerbi, though he will have to prove his worth in their youth squads.

Speaking about the acquisition of Vickers earlier this month, Brighton Under-23 manager Shannon Ruth said: “Caylan has had an impressive season, making his professional debut and scoring his first league goal. He’s combined exposure to League One football along with impressive performances in Premier League 2. We are excited to work with him and in our environment we are confident he will continue to develop and flourish.”

Brighton have never shied away from giving their younger prospects the opportunity on the biggest of stages, with the likes of Evan Ferguson and Julio Enciso both key players for the Seagulls. Vickers will be hoping that he’s the next on the conveyor belt of talents being integrated into the first team, though he will face competition from fellow new signing Josh Robertson.

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