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Reported Arsenal and Crystal Palace target Nathan Collins is a defender of “Premier League potential” and shares similarities with Harry Maguire, Stoke City coach Richard Walker has told The42.

When reports emerged last month suggesting the 19-year-old defender was a target for three top-flight clubs, Stoke legend Lou Macari made his feelings clear.

Collins, he said, shouldn’t be sold for a penny less than £20 million.

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However, if the Republic of Ireland U21 international continues to develop at such a rapid rate in the Potteries, it won’t be long before someone is willing to pay a hefty fee for one of Britain’s most talented young defenders.

The Sun (24 January, page 59) reports Arsenal and Crystal Palace are big admirers of Collins. Meanwhile, Burnley see the teenager as a potential long-term replacement for James Tarkowski.

And while Walker would love to see Collins stay at Stoke for the long haul, he understands why clubs from the division above are keeping close tabs on a player whose commanding style and never-say-die spirit reminds him of Manchester United’s £80 million captain.

“The word ‘potential’ is a big thing – but I believe the potential is there to be a future Premier League centre-half,” says Walker, professional development coach at Stoke City.

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“If you look at Harry Maguire, as an example, it’s probably not a ridiculous comparison in terms of certain attributes Nathan has. At the top level, there seems to be less and less players who enjoy defending.”

Sean Dyche’s Burnley failed with a £4.5 million bid for Collins during the final few days of the January window, with Stoke refusing to accept a penny less than £10 million (Burnley Express).

However, given Tarkowski has no plans to extend a contract that expires in 2022, the Clarets are likely to be on the phone again soon.

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