Nathan Collins of Stoke City runs with the ball away from Jack Harrison of Leeds United during the Sky Bet Championship match between Stoke City and Leeds United at Bet365 Stadium on August 24, 2019 in Stoke on Trent, England. (Photo by Lewis Storey/Getty Images)

According to a recent report by The Sun, Manchester United have lost ground to Chelsea in pursuit of Stoke City youngster Nathan Collins this summer. The Republic of Ireland starlet was linked with a switch to Old Trafford before the start of this campaign, but a move failed to materialise back then (via The Sun). The same source has now revealed that the Red Devils are still on the lookout to sign him, but Frank Lampard’s side have stolen a march on them and are currently the closest to acquiring his services in the off-season.

Collins’ Stellar Rise In The English Championship This Season

Collins has enjoyed a wonderful breakout year at the bet365 Stadium and has put in a series of impressive displays at the heart of Michael O’Neill’s defence. The Irish starlet has made 12 senior appearances for the Potters this term and has got one goal to show for his efforts across all competitions. He is turning out to be one of the most promising young players on offer in the EFL Championship based on his contributions at Staffordshire this season.

The 18-year-old has managed to secure 340 minutes of playing time in league football but needs to improve a lot if he intends to get more first-team chances in the coming years. Collins began his playing career at Cherry Orchard FC back in his homeland before joining Stoke in the summer of 2017. He has gone on to feature in 15 matches for the Potters so far and has also represented the Republic of Ireland at various youth levels. The teenage defender is currently a crucial member of his nation’s Under-19 team, having played in four international matches for them so far.

Collins made a name for himself for Stoke’s U-23 side last season when he put in several dominant performances at the back. Hence, his recent emergence at the Championship club has been a long time coming, but it is still unclear whether he will be good enough to make an impact in the Premier League someday.

Nathan Collins of Stoke City leaves the pitch after receiving a red card from referee Kevin Johnson during the Carabao Cup Third Round match between XX and XX at The Peoples Pension Stadium on September 24, 2019, in Crawley, England. (Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images)

What Will The Young Irish Centre-Back Add To Solskjaer’s Team?

Collins is not shy about making a few tackles to win possession back for his side. He excels at making some vital clearances when in danger of being overrun by the opposition at the back. Standing at 6ft 5inch tall, the Irish whizkid can be a commanding presence inside his own box so the Red Devils will do well to lure him to the Theatre of Dreams this summer. Furthermore, he can also be an aerial threat from set-pieces but still has a lot to learn before he is ready to play in the English top-flight.

Should The Red Devils Intensify Their Efforts For Collins This Summer?

A defender of Collins’ potential will undoubtedly be a shrewd long-term acquisition for the Mancunian giants. However, he will most likely have to prove his worth at Carrington so that he can catch the attention of Man United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and stake a claim for a regular starting berth at Old Trafford.

Collins will be able to learn a lot from the likes of Harry Maguire and Victor Lindelof, which might help him polish his game even further over the next few campaigns. He will also offer some healthy competition for Axel Tuanzebe who has been pushing for first-team starts at the red half of Manchester this season. All in all, Solskjaer should think about intensifying his efforts to land the talented teenager this summer as he has the ceiling to become a future star in English football.

A 26-year-old sports writer and an aspiring football coach who has road-tripped across the Scottish Highlands, but has never been to Wales. Sucker for cliff-hangers and catchy riffs. Known to be a grunger and not to be a stranger.