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Watford closing in on Under-17 World Cup star

Watford are in advanced talks with forward Aly Malle and are confident of concluding a deal to sign one of the stars of the Under-17 World Cup.

The powerful and direct left-footed Mali attacker has courted interest from Manchester City and Paris Saint Germain but Watford’s pre-planning and proactive approach in the transfer market could see them land the 17-year-old, we have been told. “We are very close to closing [a deal] with the boy but there is a bit more work to be done yet,” a source told us this afternoon.

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Malle was a star of the Mali team who finished runners-up to Nigeria at the U17 World Cup in Chile last year, winning the third best player of the tournament award. He played as a No.9, scoring twice and setting up two others as Mali beat Honduras, Ecuador, Paraguay and Croatia on their way to the final. He was also part of the exciting Mali team who won the U17 African Championships last year by beating South Africa in the final in Nigeria.

Turning 18 in April, Malle was rewarded for his performances by being called up to the national team squad for the African Nations Championship, a tournament in Rwanda which concluded earlier this month.

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The likely signing of Malle from Black Stars FC would be the second top prospect from Africa Watford have snapped up, following hot on the heels of the deal to sign Isaac Success, the 20-year-old Nigerian powerhouse from Granada. It is hard to see Malle being used next season and there are obvious work permit issues but his potential capture is further evidence of how the Pozzos’ worldwide scouting network is now unearthing gems with the Premier League club in mind.