Stoke City win race for Belgian starlet Thibaut Verlinden

HITC Sport understands Stoke City have beaten a host of clubs across Europe to land highly-rated Standard Liege starlet Thibaut Verlinden.

HITC Sport understands from sources close to the club that Stoke have fended off interest from several top clubs, including Chelsea, to agree a deal for Belgian teenager Thibaut Verlinden.

Verlinden is regarded as one of the best young prospects in his homeland and has impressed in Belgium's youth sides.

The 15-year-old has previously had trials at Liverpool and Everton, while the likes of Chelsea, Monaco and Borussia Dortmund have all shown interest in the exciting midfielder.

Monaco and Dortmund are both thought to have made offers for Verlinden, but Stoke have managed to lure the player to the Britannia Stadium.

Verlinden is expected to link up with Stoke in July when he turns 16 and will go into the club's academy.

Stoke boss Mark Hughes recently admitted in quotes carried by the Sentinel that he was looking to revamp and improve the club's youth set-up by bringing in some new players.

"We are trying to improve the quality of the under-21s to get more young players knocking on the door of the first-team squad. That's our intention," said Hughes.

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