BY ALAN TEMPLE – @CCP_Sport
OLIVER BURKE insists he is flattered by transfer interest from the English Premier League – but is adamant his focus remains on toppling Bayern Munich.
The 19-year-old, who became the most expensive Scottish footballer in history when he joined RB Leipzig from Nottingham Forest in a £13 million switch in August, has started just one league match for the Bundesliga outfit.
That has sparked suggestions that he could return to British football on loan, with Crystal Palace and Middlesbrough reportedly keen to snap him up for the rest of the season.
“To be honest I haven’t read too much into those links,” said Burke. “I am still settling into life in Germany. But it is always great to hear about interest from English clubs and to know they are still thinking about me.
“I am at RB Leipzig. I am learning a lot and I need to step up and push for my place in the team here. Who knows what can happen? We will just need to wait and see what happens in the coming weeks.”
While starts have been hard to come by, Burke has been regularly used as an impact substitute, climbing from the bench on 13 occasions, including in the 3-0 win over Eintracht Frankfurt last weekend.
That victory in their first match following the Winter break ensured Leipzig – in their first ever top-flight campaign – remain just three points behind Carlo Ancelotti’s superstars of Bayern Munich.
And, despite succumbing to a 3-0 defeat against the Bavarian giants in December, Burke has no intention of giving up the ghost as he looks to cap his maiden campaign in German football with an astonishing title win.
“Everything has happened so fast for us, but we just need to keep working hard and see where that takes us – and hopefully we can win the Bundesliga,” he continued.
“We don’t want to put too much pressure on – we are young and there is some inexperience there – but this is a really exciting time. We can’t get carried away but, if we keep approaching games in the way we have, then anything is possible. Football is crazy.
“Hopefully we can achieve that because it would be a great end to my footballing season and my first campaign in Leipzig.”
While conscious that moving abroad must be a carefully considered step, Burke has urged fellow young players to follow his lead if they see an opportunity to hone their skills and broaden their horizons on the continent.
“My view is obviously ‘why not?’ as I have actually done it,” Burke told talkSPORT. “There are other factors that come with it, that I didn’t really think about because it happened so quickly for me. Things like how it affects your family and whether it I the right thing for yourself.
“But I made the move because I knew it would help my progress as a footballer. Being at a young age, I felt that was the right thing for me. I feel like I am improving and that is what matters to me. If a player knows he will improve, and he has the right people around him, then it is definitely worth it.”