CHERRIES are understood to be leading the race to sign highly-rated teenage striker Mikael Ndjoli.

The 18-year-old is believed to be close to agreeing terms with the Dorset club, having also attracted the attention of their Premier League rivals Arsenal and Crystal Palace.

Ndjoli is viewed as one for the future by Eddie Howe’s coaching staff and has been earmarked to link up with Stephen Purches’s under-21s.

The youngster progressed through the ranks at Millwall and earned some rave reviews for his displays in their under-18 and under-21 teams last season.

And although he was not offered a professional contract by the Lions, Ndjoli was highly thought of at the Den and several clubs had been tracking him.

While he also caught the eye during a trial with Bristol City, Ndjoli and his family are understood to feel joining Cherries would benefit his development.

A natural finisher with a blistering turn of pace, Ndjoli could become Cherries’ first summer addition and is expected to finalise a move in the next few weeks.

Millwall admitted their decision to release Ndjoli had been made with a “heavy heart”, while Lions Academy director Scott Fitzgerald said the player had shown “incredible dedication and a desire to learn and progress” during his time at the Den.

Meanwhile, Cherries are unlikely to pursue their interest in goalkeeper Marius Adamonis who spent the second half of the season at Vitality Stadium.

Adamonis signed on loan from Lithuanian outfit FK Atlantas in the January transfer window and worked under the watchful eye of Cherries goalkeeper coach Neil Moss.

The 19-year-old, whose parent club play in the Lithuanian A Lyga, also trained with Howe’s first-team squad and came in with a view to making the move permanent.

However, Adamonis, who represented Lithuania at under-17, under-18 and under-19 level, was not kept on and is understood to have returned home.

His departure leaves Cherries with five contracted goalkeepers on the books – Adam Federici, Ryan Allsop, Jordan Holmes, Pat O’Flaherty and Callum Stanton.

Artur Boruc, Cherries’ first choice for the majority of the past two seasons, is currently in talks with the club regarding extending his stay.

Stephane Zubar will officially sever ties with Cherries next month – almost four years after making his last first-team appearance.

Zubar cashed in when Cherries’ promotion to the Premier League activated an automatic 12-month contract extension which had been included in the deal he signed in February 2012 during Eddie Mitchell’s tenure as chairman and Lee Bradbury’s as manager.

The defender joined Cherries as a free agent in September 2011 with his final appearance coming during a 3-1 defeat at Crawley in October 2012 – Paul Groves’s last game as manager.