Gareth McAuley has urged teenage striker Jonathan Leko to resist any outside temptation and stay with West Brom to learn his trade.
The 36-year-old Northern Ireland international central defender has kept a close eye on the 17-year-old, who has been with Albion since the age of 10, since he broke into the club’s first-team squad and featured in the three final games of the past Premier League campaign.
And, with the Baggies poised to hand Leko a new three-year deal to tie him to The Hawthorns, McAuley has spoken out to advise the youngster that he is at the best club to keep progressing his career.
Rival outfits are already thought to be monitoring Leko’s contract situation but McAuley told the Express & Star: “He’s got to be managed properly by the club because hes only played two games, but there will be people starting to circle him and trying to nick him.
“The only thing I will say to him is this is a great football club to play for and a great club to learn at. Hopefully he takes that on board.”
He added: “He (Leko) has only trained with us for the last month or so, his last two performances for us have been fantastic.
“He’s a talent, he’s got all the ability in the world. He’s still learning the game, but hes got to be protected.”