West Brom teenager Isaiah Brown was today poised to leave the Hawthorns for Chelsea after the clubs opened talks over a compensation package.
The Blues moved following a week of speculation linking the 16-year-old with a move to Stamford Bridge.
Brown even joined the London club for training at the weekend after being given permission by Albion, although the Baggies stress they are still in the throes of finalising a deal for his exit.
His departure will come as a major blow to West Brom's academy staff, who had earmarked the tall midfielder as a potential first-team star and a possible standard bearer for other players in the Baggies’ youth ranks.
But Hawthorns sources stress that the player’s move is likely to net the club more than the £209,000 quoted last week.
That was believed to be the standard compensation figure under the new Elite Player Performance Plan.
As Brown completed a youth scholarship with the Baggies and joined the club long before the advent of EPPP, the club can demand more from Chelsea.
And the matter will go to an FA transfer tribunal should the clubs fail to agree a fee.
The Peterborough-born midfielder has been with Albion’s academy for several years since being spotted playing for Histon’s youth-team.
Brown played the final four minutes as a substitute in May’s 3-2 defeat to Wigan, becoming Albion’s youngest first-team player in more than 90 years.
The schoolboy, whose debut came at 16 years and 117 days old, is the second-youngest player in the history of the Premier League, behind Fulham’s Matthew Briggs.
Meanwhile, Albion’s players were due to return for pre-season training today with the club locked in discussions over a new loan deal for left-back Goran Popov.
Players returned to the training ground yesterday for fitness tests ahead of the pre-season programme, with the first full session planned for this morning.
And Popov could soon rejoin the group after spending last season on loan at The Hawthorns.
The Baggies decided not to activate an option to make the 28-year-old a permanent signing at the end of the season after his form dipped following an impressive start.
But sources in Ukraine claim Dinamo Kiev are willing to allow the Macedonia international out on loan for a second season, with the Baggies keen to take an extended look at the player.Subscribe to our Newsletter