Nathan Holland, the crowning jewel of the West Ham Academy, has gone on loan to League One’s Oxford United. Who should follow suit THIS January for the Hammers?
Before Chelsea received their transfer ban it was hard to know which players were actually on their books as their crazy amount of loan deals had youth players across the globe getting experience in at every level. Now it’s time for the Hammers to do the same with their impressive youth players.
Nathan Holland has started the temporary exodus with a move to League One side Oxford, who are hungrily hunting promotion this season. As the pinnacle of our current youth team, Holland won’t miss a step and surely will be securing regular playing time for the impressive side that knocked West Ham out of the Carabao Cup earlier this year.
Conor Coventry is next up. The usual captain for the U23 side just turned down contracts from other English and Scottish teams to stay with the Hammers. His development should be fast-tracked now and a loan move would do this. Joe Powell is in the same boat. He’s been quietly contributing to the development team’s success and also performed well for Northampton in League Two last season on loan. Get both midfielders out and in Men’s action asap.
Goncalo Cardoso is next up. The 19-year-old centre-back was signed as a player to challenge the first team, but his acclamation has taken longer for the English version of football. Former director of football Mario Husillos had this to say about Cardoso when signing the young defender:
“He is, of course, a player for the future, with a lot of potential in front of him, but we feel he is ready to be with the first team squad from both a physical and technical point of view.”
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Cardoso hasn’t done this, but after a few months of first-team training and 11 PL2 matches under his belt, it’s time to see what he can do away from the club. Newly settled in a new country, it would be a test of the man as well as his skills to do so, but that kind of pressure could force him to come true and push on with West Ham.
The final two that should be looked at for moves away from the U23 team are twenty-year-old midfielders, Dan Kemp and Alfie Lewis. Kemp has been a sparkplug alongside Anthony Scully and Holland this year. He needs to grow against better opposition and see if he can still have the attacking potency against stiffer competition.
Alfie Lewis is a name that isn’t as familiar with many who support West Ham, but this midfielder looks the part on a future piece in the Hammers’ midfield. He showed up in a first-team friendly against Dagenham a few seasons ago and has pushed on through the levels of the development team. This may be a move for the summer, but why not force his hand now?
The Academy of Football is alive and well, with the cupboards fully stocked with promising prospects. Rather than dithering their time away in a lesser-than league, the Hammers need to push these players out and see who returns battle-tested and ready for Premier League football.