Celtic are leading the race to sign West Ham forward Veron Parkes on a free transfer, according to a report from Football Insider.

The 18-year-old has decided to reject West Ham’s offer of a first professional contract as he wants to move to a club where he thinks he can get regular first-team football and as such, he could now leave the London club for a small compensatory fee.

Whilst they are apparently the front runners for Parkes’ signature, Celtic aren’t the only club interested in the forward as Ligue 1’s Monaco have shown an interest in him, as have the MLS’ New York Red Bulls and the Dutch duo of Fortuna Sittard and Heerenveen.

Football Insider report that the player and his representatives have been impressed by Celtic’s willingness to play youngsters in the first team, which is why the Hoops are now leading the race to sign him.

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Despite having not played for the West Ham first-team yet, Parkes has a growing reputation with the London club after his performances for the Hammers’ U18s, where he scored 11 goals and had six assists in just 14 U18 Premier League clashes.

Celtic have certainly been willing to put young players in their first-team over recent years, so it’s easy to see why they appear to be a very attractive option for the teenager.

In a summer where the transfer market is almost certain to be severely impacted by the ongoing global pandemic, it looks like Celtic’s policy of signing youngsters and putting them in the first-team has worked to their advantage in the chase for Parkes as he’s seen first-hand that youngsters can make great successes of themselves by moving to the Scottish champions.