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New Contracts For Young Clarets

Four Under-23s offered new deals while extension triggered for Ali Koiki

2 April 2019

The Clarets have offered new contracts to four young players and extended the stay of Ali Koiki at Turf Moor.

Under-23s’ top scorer Dan Agyei, 21, winger Tunde Bayode, 20, central midfielder Christian N’Guessan, 20, and defender Jordan Cropper have all been offered new deals at Burnley – with right-back Cropper, 18,  joining the professional ranks for the first time.

And the club has also taken up the option to extend the contract of left-back Koiki, 19, who is currently on loan at Swindon Town.

However, six young professionals are being released at the end of the season as they reach the end of their current deals.

Ali Koiki has made nine appearances in League Two for Swindon

Midfielder Mark Howarth and defender James Clarke both end lengthy stays with the Clarets’ Academy.

And also leaving in the summer are goalkeeper Aiden Stone, winger Marley Blair, defender Ed Cook and forward Tinashe Chakwana, who also progressed through the Clarets’ youth team.

Final decisions on defender Scott Wilson and goalkeeper Adam Bruce will be taken at the end of the season.

Under-23s head coach Steve Stone (below) said: “The guys that we have looked at over the time have given their all. They have done everything they can.

“Everybody is different, but they have all tried to do it in the right way and they have been a credit to what the football club is trying to achieve.

“Unfortunately for some, the standards keep rising. Premier League football keeps getting tougher and keeps getting harder to break through. And this is the toughest contract they will ever have to try and get.

“The one from the U23s up to the first team is the biggest gap you will find in football.

“That’s why it’s been so tough and that’s why five or six of them have left – because it is a tough contract.

“It would have been easy for me to give them another year and say ‘development’.

“But for the boys I’ve let go, it’s time to go and play men’s football and play for three points on a Saturday afternoon.

“They won’t like it now, but hopefully they’ll thank me for it down the line when they’ve got a career in the game somewhere else.”

Jordan Cropper gets a first professional deal

Stone has guided the Clarets’ U23s into the top three of the Professional Development League’s northern division, as well as a place in the final of the Lancashire FA Senior Cup and the last eight of the Premier League Cup, where they were beaten by Leeds United.

And the former England international – who took up his current post at the start of November – is keen to build on that start, having given the five players with contract offers the chance to continue to develop alongside those still on the books and planned new arrivals in the summer.

“I’m looking forward to working with them – not just next season but right now. We’re not looking to peter out,” Stone added.

“We’re looking to kick on until the end of the season and hopefully next season as well, where once again they’ve got the challenge of trying to break into our first team or go on loan somewhere and affect someone else’s first team, because that’s how you get into our first team.

“I’m driving the 23s forward. We are the beacon at the top of Academy, which everyone should look up to and aspire to be in. There’s a pathway there.”

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