West Ham may have dropped the ball over their additions to the first team over the summer, with 13 players coming into the club and making little impact, however, behind the scenes in the youth ranks they look to have landed some impressive deals.
The Hammers U23 manager, Terry Westley, has been full of praise for their January addition, Nathan Holland, who was brought in from Everton during the window, after he bagged an impressive goal at the London Stadium in their 2-0 win over Fulham on Monday night.
Westley went as far to compare the 18-year-old to a young Ryan Giggs, having watched him skip inside before bending his shot into the far right hand corner to give the Hammers the lead.
Not only have the east Londoners pulled off what looks like a smart move for Holland, they have form over the last year or so when it comes to landing deals for talented youngsters.
The likes of Martin Samuelson and Toni Martinez, who joined from Manchester City and Valencia, respectively, have been impressing on loan this term, with Samuelson – a Norway international – currently at Peterborough and Martinez – a Spanish youth international – getting game time with Oxford United, scoring against both Newcastle and Middlesbrough in the FA Cup.
Furthermore, the summer addition of Domingos Quina from Chelsea looks to be an astute one. The midfielder, who could yet represent England at international level having only appeared for the Portugal youth sides thus far, has had a taste of first team action and looks an exciting prospect for the years to come.
These additions, whilst not having an impact on the first team just yet, will be a boost to West Ham fans. The club pride themselves on being able to bring through talented youngsters, hence the tagline, ‘The Academy of Football,’ which is so proudly displayed alongside the pitch at the London Stadium.
Whilst the club do have a good track record regarding their academy, with the likes of Frank Lampard, Joe Cole and Rio Ferdinand all having gone on to big things since graduating, there has not been a graduate, since Mark Noble, to have gone on and had a profound impact on the first team.
This is something that Hammers fans will be desperate to see change and, therefore, should Holland and his peers keep up their form, it could be something we see in east London sooner rather than later.