The Academy of Football is synonymous with West Ham United. The youth system has produced some of the best players to grace the Premier League, but the recent clearing out of players in the January transfer window has supporters second-guessing the once-great backbone of this club.
January has come and gone with only two signings to prop up the club. First was the signing of Brazilian centre-back Luizão from São Paulo on January first, followed by Danny Ings coming from Aston Villa.
Luizão joined the U21s while Danny Ings immediately made the bench against Everton and inevitably was injured in his first short cameo with the Irons. Luizão’s addition was arbitrary but clearly one spurred on by the South American scouts the club has, while Ings’ addition addressed the forward depth issue in the first team.
West Ham’s Academy of Football is being cleared out as a transitional period approaches.
Now, onto the departures. Most notably, West Ham shipped out promising young right-back Harrison Ashby to Newcastle United for £3m. The move came after a few months of contract discussions saw the player holding out for a wage increase that would put him in line with first-team players.
Newcastle expressed their interest in the Summer but West Ham wanted to keep hold of Ashby to try and work to a solution that would keep him with the club long term. A lengthy injury layoff lead to the January transfer window where the club opted to accept the Magpies’ offer of £3m for the player who was going to be out of contract at the end of the year.
West Ham tried on multiple occasions to negotiate a contract that would reflect the impact Ashby has had in the Academy and not hamstring their financial situation with a prospect as they had with Reese Oxford, but it appears Ashby was more confident in his abilities to unseat Kieran Trippier instead of Vladimir Coufal.
The reality is that this is a money move for both the player and West Ham. Newcastle’s deep pockets saw an offer the club couldn’t turn down, an offer that no club in World football would likely make for this player. Likewise, while his wages are undisclosed, Ashby signed a “long-term contract” with Newcastle that undoubtedly has him paid well.