One of the biggest storylines from the final three games of West Ham’s campaign was the emergence of Ben Johnson as a key player for the Irons going forward.
Since his initial debut against Manchester City in February 2019, Johnson has been considered one of the better prospects within the West Ham Academy.
In fact, London. Football’s West Ham Correspondent Sam Inkersole considered him to be one of the breakout stars of pre-season when Manuel Pellegrini was in charge.
Much like the entire squad, Johnson has endured a difficult campaign due to recurring hamstring injuries that limited his ability to break through to the first team.
In January, with Johnson once again sidelined, David Moyes inserted youngster Jeremy Ngakia into the squad and his performances rendered Johnson an afterthought down the stretch.
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During Ngakia’s drawn-out contract negotiations, many began to discuss Johnson as a potential replacement for him.
But Moyes stuck with the experienced Ryan Fredericks until he suffered an injury prior to the biggest game of the year against Watford.
There was a palpable nervousness and excitement for Johnson fans as he finally got his chance to shine, and while he looked a little uncomfortable on the ball, he played quite well defensively as the Irons cruised to a 3-1 victory.
The Academy product followed that up with an excellent performance against Marcus Rashford and Manchester United, before showing his versatility by featuring at left-back on the final day of the season against Aston Villa.
After being discussed as an outstanding prospect for so long, it was fantastic to see Johnson get his opportunity, and he turned a few heads in the process. The consensus seems to be what a young player the club has on their hands.
If there is one knock on Johnson’s season this year it’s that the club really could’ve benefitted from a healthy version of him earlier in the campaign to bring stability to both sides of the defensive four. It’s simply impossible to be upset with a player over injuries though.
I expect Johnson to make a run for one of the two back positions next season depending on the club’s activities in the transfer market.
While he has shown himself to be a polished defender, I also believe him to be much better on the ball than he has shown. Obviously missing a large portion of the year affected him in some ways. Overall, for his contributions down the stretch, I give him a B- on the season.