ONE of Southend United brightest young prospects has been snapped up by Premier League giants Manchester City.

Highly-rated 13-year-old Finley Burns has caught the eye of several top flight sides this season after being promoted into the Shrimpers’ under 16 side.

And, despite being disappointed to have lost the talented youngster, Blues’ head of youth Ricky Duncan stressed City’s interest was a huge compliment for the club’s blossoming academy.

“We would prefer our best young players to come through and play for our first team but the fact Manchester City are aware of youth players at Southend United reflects very well on what everyone is doing here,” said Duncan.

“Man City could sign anyone from across the world so for them to come to us is a real compliment.

“There were four or five Premier League clubs after Finley in the end and it’s extremely difficult to keep hold of a boy once that’s happens.

“He would have had a ten-day window of opportunity to look elsewhere at the end of the season so this was the best way to do it. He’s a great kid from a nice family and everything was sorted out amicably which is how it should be.

“We’re still in touch and we wish him all the very best for the future.”

Blues were not willing to disclose the size of Burns’ transfer fee or subsequent payments they may receive.

But Duncan was not surprised to see the Upminster-based Burns catching the eye of the top teams in the country.

“Finley came to us as an under nine and was always in the top three at each age group he went up into,” said Duncan.

“This season it became apparent that he wasn’t really being tested by playing in his own age-group so we moved him up into the under 16s but once that happens other clubs become aware and that’s what happened with Finley.”

But Duncan was keen to point out the club had done everything within their power to keep the defender.

“We all sat down together and told him we wanted him to stay and what our plans were moving forward,” said Duncan.

“We all have rules and regulations we must adhere to but the club continues to invest heavily in the youth system and we will continue to work on bringing through more top players.”