OLDHAM Athletic have turned down a bid for Benny Couto from a Premier League club, The Oldham Times understands.

Interest is hotting up in the 18-year-old left back since the January transfer window opened.

And it is likely that Couto will be sold before the end of the month.

However, he could still see out the season with Latics.

Scouts have been flocking to see the club’s talented teens this season, with Couto catching the eye since making the step up to the first team earlier this term.

The 18-year-old is the subject of interest from a host of clubs in England, Scotland and even abroad.

But The Oldham Times understands that the majority of clubs interested in signing the versatile left back would be prepared to loan him back to Latics so that he can complete a crucial season at Boundary Park and boost their relegation fight.

That is certainly in the player’s interests.

Portugal-born Couto is believed to be happy at Oldham and focused on keeping the club in the Football League.

He has been a key player since his senior breakthrough was accelerated by player absences due to Covid-19 and injury, having been handed his debut by then head coach Keith Curle, who took the opportunity to blood some of the club’s youngsters in the Papa John’s Trophy group games.

Couto seized his chance and made an instant impact with his movement on the ball, his deliveries and a throw-in so long it was as effective as a set piece.

The second year scholar kept his place in the squad before establishing himself in the side, and was instrumental in the derby win over Rochdale in setting up the winner for Davis Keillor-Dunn, going on to sign his first professional contract in October.

He scored his first senior goal against Scunthorpe, giving Latics the lead in a game they went on to lose 3-1.

It is not yet clear what kind of figure Couto would command, but The Oldham Times understands former Rochdale youngster Luke Matheson would be seen as a yardstick, with plenty of similarities with their progression.

Right back Matheson became Rochdale’s youngest debutant when he made his first team bow in September 2018 just 29 days shy of his 16th birthday, in an EFL Trophy game against Bury. He went on to sign his first professional contract just over a year later.

A number of Championship and Premier League clubs targeted Matheson, who joined Wolves for £1million the following January and returned to Spotland on loan to complete the season with Dale.

Couto’s fledgling career has followed a similar pattern as, like Matheson, he made his debut in the EFL Trophy, against Salford in August, and has been a highlight of a tough season for Latics ever since.