Former Oxford United apprentice Erion Zabeli has signed for Premier League side Brentford and will join up with their B team, managed by Neil MacFarlane.
Zabeli, who has represented Albania on eight occasions at various youth levels, has penned a one-year deal with the west London outfit, with a club option of an additional year. This is the result of a successful trial period with the Bees at the tail end of last season.
The left-footed central defender was part of one of Oxford United’s most successful ever youth teams last season, reaching the quarter-finals of the FA Youth Cup, the furthest any Oxford side has made it in their history.
Zabeli was unfortunately not offered a professional contract by the League One side at the conclusion of his apprenticeship, but his former LFE Regional Officer Simon Dwight praised the youngsters work ethic and determination both on and off the pitch.
“Erion was unfortunate not to be offered a deal at Oxford. In his reviews, he told me his goals.” Dwight told LFE. “One was to make his first team debut. He played vs Reading in a friendly. His second goal was to achieve a distinction for Unit 11 in his BTEC, he achieved that. His last one was to be offered a professional contract, unfortunately that didn’t materialise, but I knew he’d get a contract somewhere else.”
Speaking to Brentford, B team Manager Neil MacFarlane said: “We’re really happy to announce the signing of Erion, he joined us towards the end of last season on trial and we decided to bring him in permanently as we feel he has a lot of potential and is a player we can develop.
“We think this is a really good piece of recruitment. Myself and the rest of the coaching staff believe Erion will be a good addition to the squad as we look to continue to grow this group.”