West Ham Prospects Likely to Break into the First Team Next Season

West Ham face Chelsea at home on Saturday evening
West Ham face Chelsea at home on Saturday evening /

Rio Ferdinand, Joe Cole, Michael Carrick, Mark Noble, and more recently, Declan Rice. What do these players have in common? They all worked their way through the West Ham Academy ranks to play amongst the first team.

West Ham United has one of the best academies in modern football, producing some of the games’ biggest names, therefore rightfully earning its name as ‘The Academy of Football‘. But as the 20/21 season draws to a close, we analyze who the next big academy stars are, and which West Ham prospects are most likely to break into the first team next season.

Conor  Coventry 

At the age of 21, Conor Coventry will be hoping the 21/22 season is his chance to make a name for himself amongst West Ham fans. Although already having a senior debut in the 2018 EFL Cup match against Macclesfield Town, the young midfielder is yet to make his first Premier League appearance.

A Premier League 2 (PL2) winner in the 19/20 season, Coventry remains an influential character amongst the Academy players. West Ham PL2 manager Dmitri Halajko recently expressed how positive Coventry’s presence has been, in an interview with whufc.com. This essentially explains why Coventry has been trusted with the captain’s armband for this season, showing his leadership ability on and off the pitch.

Coventry’s ability isn’t just shown domestically either, making his U21 national team debut at 18 years old. Since then, he’s earned 11 international caps for his country, gaining all in youth teams. Coventry’s allegiance is with his mother’s native Republic of Ireland, where his recent bout of good form landed him a call-up to the senior team in March 2021. His impressive displays in academy football have given him the recognition he deserves, and his recent senior opportunities suggest that Coventry’s professional career is heading in an exciting direction.

Frederik Alves 

Frederik Alves, West Ham.
Frederik Alves, West Ham. (Photo by James Chance/Getty Images) /

Bought from Danish Second Tier team Silkeborg IF in January 2021, Frederik Alves is a very exciting young defender. Despite only being at the club for just under 5 months, Alves holds high praise from David Moyes. Speaking to whufc.com, Moyes said, “He’s somebody with potential. He’s probably not for just now, but he’s a young player with a bit of potential who’ll hopefully come good in the future.

From both Danish and Brazilian roots, Alves international alliegance with his father’s native Denmark. For the Danish U21 team, Alves has made 6 appearances and is showing glimpses of what’s to come for the Hammers. He describes himself as a defender comfortable with the ball at his feet – excelling especially in duels. This style of play earned him 50 professional appearances by the time he was 21 at former club Silkeborg, showing the capability the young defender has.

Although Alves is yet to start for the West Ham First Team, since his arrival, he has made 10 appearances on the senior bench. However, if he can continue to play well for his country and West Ham’s U21 team, he will be a sure starter in no time.

West Ham Prospects Likely to Break into the First Team Next Season

Ademipo Odubeko

West Ham striker Mipo Odubeko.
Ademipo Odubeko, West Ham – Pictured with Declan Rice (West Ham) and Scott McTominay (Manchester United). (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images) /

Mipo Odubeko is a name that may be rather familiar to West Ham fans at the moment. Since signing in October 2019, many fans have been made aware of Odubeko’s goalscoring ability. Some even hailed the young attacker to be the answer to West Ham’s ongoing striker conundrum – despite him being only 18 years old.

Odubeko spent his youth career in Manchester, scoring 35 goals – as well as getting an U18 Premier League debut goal during the 18/19 season. That’s not the only debut goal he’s scored either, netting in his West Ham U18 debut, too. The phrase ‘start as you mean to go on’ is fitting to describe his West Ham career, going on to grab 9 goals in his first 8 games. Inevitably, Odubeko’s Premier League 2 debut came against Norwich City U23’s, where he netted 4 minutes after being brought off the bench.

Born and raised in Republic of Ireland, Odubeko has played for his country throughout his youth, ultimately recieving his first under-21 call-up in March 2021. He pulled out of the squad following an injury – but still remains on the Irish radar. Just through searching ‘Mipo Odubeko’ on the internet, multiple articles, videos and social media posts praise the 18-year-old and his natural goalscoring ability – underlining his bright future in football.

Jamal Baptiste 

Jamal Baptiste, West Ham. (Photo by Alex Burstow/Getty Images)
Jamal Baptiste, West Ham. (Photo by Alex Burstow/Getty Images) /

Jamal Baptiste, yet still only 17-years-old, is making great impressions in the Premier League 2.  A product of the academy, Baptiste made his full debut for the U18’s at the start of the 2018/19 season – whilst being only 14-years-old. He made 14 appearances for the U18’s that season, with his ability being utilized by the U23’s the following season, playing all 90 minutes of the 1-0 win against Valencia ‘B’ in September 2019. A stat by whufc.com highlights that Baptiste became the second-youngest West Ham U23s player in history, once again proving how valued he is amongst the academy. Furthermore, the trust in his senior ability was demonstrated when he made his first West Ham United appearance against Wycombe Wanderers in the FA Cup, at just 16-years-old. The ultimate reward came for Baptiste in November 2020, signing his first professional contract with the Hammers – rating his style of defending to that of Virgil van Dijk.

An English native, Baptiste is a familiar face among the Young Lions squad. Previously playing for the U16 England team, the bright prospect was called up to the U17 team for three international matches, for the first time. His impressive performances for his country earned him the next call-up of his international career – U18’s.

Next. West Ham need to snatch up this top defender to replace Fabian Balbuena. dark

As he is still so young, the only way is up for defender Jamal Baptiste. He, similarly to Odubeko, is a recognizable name amongst West Ham fans; all excited at what the future may hold for him. I may be a season or two early when talking about Baptiste’s potential Premier League debut, but he is one of the most exciting West Ham prospects in the Academy of Football.