Dundalk FC have officially confirmed that Ben McLaughlin has agreed a deal to join English Premier League side Everton. Dundalk and Everton had agreed a fee earlier in the week and now the youngster has penned a three-year professional deal with the Liverpool outfit.
Rumours had been circulating for a number of weeks that Everton had been interested in the 17 year-old and it was first said of interest by former manager Sean McCaffrey as far back as April. The local player burst onto the scene as a 16 year-old back in March as Dundalk had no senior right-back and instantly became a first-team regular.
The Lilywhites, in a statement confirming the deal, wish to congratulate all of Ben's 'clubs, coaches and managers who contributed to Ben’s development within the Dundalk Schoolboys League' and also 'Ben’s parents who contributed to moulding Ben into the excellent individual he has become.'
Speaking to Extratime.ie, general manager Paul Johnston spoke of his personal delight that the youngster had got the deal and also confirmed that the deal will have financial benefits for the club not only now but in the future.
"The Ben McLaughlin deal will benefit the club now and also in the future. We are delighted with Ben and Ben's progress. On a personal note, I was delighted to see Ben go away. He gave his heart and soul, not only to the football, off the football pitch. Ben was a transition student here when he was in school and he was out doing school visits with us. He carried himself very well and he is a credit to his family, who are of course steeped in football and steeped in the club.
"I am delighted for Ben, he's a young player and it continues our record of players going across the water which is fantastic. Everyone in the youth and a senior set up should take some credit for that."
The statement reads in full:
"Dundalk Football Club can confirm that 17 year old local Ben McLaughlin has today formally agreed personal terms and signed a 3-year professional contract with Everton Football Club. This follows both clubs agreeing terms earlier in the week.
We wish to take to take this opportunity to congratulate all clubs, coaches and managers who contributed to Ben’s development within the Dundalk Schoolboys League notably Quay Celtic, Glenmuir and Seatown and their repesentative teams where Ben captained their side at the Kennedy Cup and Milk Cup. We also would like to congratulate the coaches within the North East emerging talent centre but most importantly Ben’s parents who contributed to moulding Ben into the excellent individual he has become.
Dundalk Football Club wish to thank Everton Football Club and their chief recruitment officer in Ireland Mr Paul Hamilton for their co-operation and professionalism in dealing with this matter and also wish Ben every success in his new career with Everton FC and thank him for his commitment and dedication to our club in his time spent with us.
We can also confirm that a friendly with an Everton XI in Oriel Park has been agreed between both clubs as part of the deal."