AFC Wimbledon defender Ryan Sweeney has sign a new long-term contract with the League Two club, despite attracting interest from Premier League pair Tottenham Hotspur and West Ham United. The Republic of Ireland Under-18 international broke into the Dons first team last season and has since gone on to make nine appearances this season.
Sweeney moved to the Kingsmeadow club in 2005 aged just eight and completed his route into the senior team within a decade, making his Football League debut against Dagenham and Redbridge before his first start came against Oxford United. The 18-year-old has continued his career progression this season and has been rewarded with a new contract.
The Evening Standard understand that both Tottenham and West Ham were tracking Sweeney's career and though the length of the new contract is undisclosed, it is expected that the commitment will warn off interest from the top flight duo. Sweeney says he had no hesitation in agreeing to the deal.
"The gaffer approached me and said he was going to offer me a new deal and I'm really pleased with it," Sweeney told the club's official website. "I think I've progressed this season and especially over the last 18 months I feel I've come a really long way and my game has improved as a defender and also on the ball. My heart is set here. I want to play for Wimbledon. Every day I come into training to try."
Manager Neil Ardley added: "It's great news and we want our young, talented players to be at the club for a long time and he certainly comes under the bracket of being a first team player now. He's hard to play against in training now and the strikers don't enjoy playing against him. He knows what he has got to work upon, for example, when he comes up against smaller, more nimble strikers. But he's six foot four, he's left sided, he's got good quality on the ball, he's aggressive and he's done a wonderful job for us in this run in."
Tottenham brought Dele Alli from League One to the Premier League last summer following the completion of his permanent move from Milton Keynes Dons, and it is likely the north London club will endeavour to repeat the trick by acquiring another cut-price player from the Football League.
The scouting systems of several clubs – including Arsenal and Chelsea – are facing criticism for their failure to spot Alli, who has gone on to become a regular for Tottenham and England this season. Former Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has admitted he tried to sign the 19-year-old while at Anfield, while the remainder of the Premier League teams are in awe of Spurs' recruitment strategy.