Freeman in demand
Premier League clubs close in on Gillingham youngster
By Tony Curtis. Last Updated: 27/12/07 12:00pm
Stimson: The Gills boss is resigned to losing Luke Freeman
Newcastle, Arsenal and West Ham are battling it out to prise highly-rated teenager Luke Freeman away from Gillingham.
Freeman made history in November when he was plucked from the youth team by new manager Mark Stimson to make his debut in Gillingham's FA Cup defeat to Barnet aged just 15 years and 233 days old.
The young striker has remained involved with Gillingham's first team since then - and although he is yet to open his scoring account, a host of clubs have been alerted to his talents.
Freeman has already spent time on trial at Newcastle and Arsenal, and with West Ham also keen to have a closer look at him - Gills boss Stimson is resigned to losing the talented tyro.
He told Gillingham's official website: "Luke Freeman has had a fantastic day at Newcastle United and a fantastic day at Arsenal.
"He is going to West Ham United for a day to have a look around there. He will then make a decision.
"Those clubs will speak to our chairman and something might come of that. I think he will be moving on but only if that is right for the football club.
"If they were to take it to the end of the year, it could go to a tribunal but I think clubs are being sensible and realising how good the kids are.
"There a lot of young kids moving about the country for two or three hundred grand so I think we'd be looking at that bracket for Luke plus obviously the pre-season game and the appearance fees and that stuff.
"It has to be attractive for us because he is a talent. When I first arrived here, he was a sub for the youth team but seeing him play and get involved, it is something really positive to come out of my short time here."
With Freeman on the verge of exiting Priestfield, Stimson is keen to bolster his ranks as he looks to steer the Gills away from relegation.
However former player Dean McDonald, who left the Gills to join Inverness in the summer, will not be among those arriving in January sales - despite spending time on trial back at the club.
Stimson added: "Dean McDonald was in about 10 days ago for four or five days. He wasn't in this last week. Yes, he did okay but he is not somebody I am going to take any further as I am looking at other players.
"He was available to come down so I thought I'd take a look. Some of the players I am looking at, they might have played today in the Championship or League One."