Hot prospect Mason Holgate is on the verge of leaving Barnsley for Bournemouth as a move to the Premier League beckons.
The Reds are understood to have accepted a £500,000 bid for the 18-year-old defender, with the player having been given permission to speak to the Cherries towards the end of last week.
Tellingly Holgate was left out of the Reds’ match day squad for Saturday’s 3-1 away defeat to Chesterfield.
And although Reds boss Lee Johnson was hopeful of Holgate staying, the player looks to have made his mind up.
Holgate trained with Manchester United for a fortnight last month, along with fellow Barnsley youngster Paul Digby, but both players were not offered deals and returned to Oakwell.
However, the prospect of a move away from League One to play in England’s premier competition has seemingly proved too strong a sway.
Holgate is not expected to be included in the Reds’ squad for tonight’s away clash with Scunthorpe United, with a move away expected to happen very soon.
“Mason’s a great young talent and I’d like to think he’d stay at the club to play regular football, but it’s up to the player,” revealed Johnson, speaking exclusively to The Star.
“There’s no secret there’s been a lot of interest and speculation about Mason.
“He’s a very good player, but I think he needs to stay here and develop as a player.
“I just want him to play his football and continue where he left off last season, but interest from Premier League clubs turns your head.
“If you were a kid and a team like Manchester United came in for you, then you’d probably find it very hard to refuse if they offered you a deal. It would be most kids’ dream.
“All young players have aspirations to play at the highest level – and I’m sure Mason is no different.”
If Holgate does leave he would follow in the footsteps of another homegrown talent, John Stones, who left Oakwell in January 2013 in a £3million deal to Everton.
Stones, who has since gone on to win England recognition, is rumoured to be on the verge of a £30million move to Premier League champions Chelsea.
Barnsley would benefit from a sell-on clause if that deal goes ahead, with the sale of Holgate also helping to swell the coffers.
Meanwhile, Barnsley’s Under-18s started the season with an entertaining 3-3 draw at home to Charlton Athletic yesterday.
Jacob Brown, Louis Wardle and Louis Rowe scored for the young Reds who led 3-1 but the Addicks hit back.
Reds Academy manager Ronnie Branson reflected: “A draw was probably a fair result, we knew it would be a very tough game.”