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Irish youngster James Abankwah completes transfer to Serie A side Udinese

The 18-year-old defender will remain at St Patrick Athletic while he completes his Leaving Certificate.

James Abankwah has been unveiled by Udinese.
James Abankwah has been unveiled by Udinese.
Image: Udinese Calcio

ST PATRICK’S ATHLETIC have confirmed the sale of promising centre-back James Abankwah to Italian club Udinese.

Abankwah, who turned 18 earlier this month, has signed a deal with the Serie A outfit that runs until 2026.

However, he will remain with Pat’s on a loan basis until this July, which will allow him to complete his Leaving Certificate exams.

The undisclosed fee received by the Inchicore club for the Longford native is a record upfront figure for a League of Ireland player, according to the Irish Sun, eclipsing the €500,000 paid by Manchester City to Shamrock Rovers for Gavin Bazunu.

“I’m buzzing and absolutely delighted that the deal is gone,” said Abankwah, who joined Pat’s from Cherry Orchard in 2019 and signed his first professional contract last July.

“I found out last week about the interest, flew out on Monday, had my medical on Tuesday and signed today, so I’m really looking forward to it. The people here are lovely, they’ve been very welcoming, the city is very nice.

“I’m feeling very happy right now and I’m lost for words. I’d like to thank St Pat’s, Cherry Orchard, Melview FC and Letterkenny Rovers. I’m looking forward to getting going and still have a big six months at St Pat’s and my Leaving Cert.”

james-abankwah James Abankwah playing for St Patrick's Athletic against Dundalk last October. Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

Abankwah made his 13th first-team appearance for the Saints last November, when he was the youngest player on the Aviva Stadium pitch as they defeated Bohemians on penalties to win the FAI Cup.

“It’s an unbelievable opportunity for James and a brilliant move,” St Pat’s manager Tim Clancy said of the Ireland U19 international’s transfer to Italy.

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“He has a high ceiling and can go very far in the game, he’s got great potential. It’s good for all parties and we still get his services until the summer after his Leaving Cert.”

Ger O’Brien, the academy director at Richmond Park, added: “James joined our academy as a young boy and has matured into one of the top centre-backs in the country over the last three years.

“I have always had the belief that James could make the step into professional football outside Ireland and he now has that opportunity in Italy.

“We will continue to help and develop James in the next number of months and we’ll watch with interest when he moves to Italy. We are very proud of him and his family.”

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Paul Dollery

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