West Ham legend and now director of football Mark Noble is planning to reshape the club’s academy and wants to see more players being given a chance in the search for another Declan Rice.
The Hammers are known for being ‘the academy of football’ after nurturing a number of top talents over the years such as the likes of Frank Lampard and Joe Cole.
However, the academy’s success has dried up in recent years and in transfer windows of late have seen a number of talented youngsters leave the club.
West Ham hero Mark Noble is hoping he can make the ‘academy of football’ great again.
Sonny Perkins, Aji Alese, Harrison Ashby, Emmanuel Longelo and Pierre Ekwah are just some of the names that the club supposedly thought highly of that have departed since the summer to the disappointment of fans, having not seen them given much of a chance.
Noble came through the ranks at West Ham himself and he is desperate for the club to rediscover their reputation of giving stars a chance.
He has spoke about academies being key to the Hammers making money from player sales and having world-class talent in the squad that they could not afford to buy.
Noble said to the Evening Standard: “The boy Chelsea signed from Benfica [Enzo Fernandez] went there for £10m and Chelsea had to spend £105m-plus for him. It just shows you that recruiting young players is getting harder and harder.
“You need a Declan Rice from the academy, because we can’t spend that amount on a player, that’s for sure.
“It’s so important to bring the young boys through, because any young English player who plays in the Premier League all of a sudden has a £30m price tag and, for us, that’s fantastic. And it’s nice to know at some point we might not have to spend loads of money if we can bring players through.”
“In this new role, I’ve found a real affection for working with the academy, and trying to get as many players into the first team as we can.
“I still put my boots on and train with the Under-18s and the U21s, because you only know first-hand what they’re like when you’re training with them.
“It’s great, because I get to see them first-hand, and I’m probably the best person in the world for them to ask questions about what it’s like to break into the first team.”
Only Ben Johnson and Rice in the current squad represented West Ham at youth level but there are stars with big futures ahead like Divin Mubama and Ollie Scarles.
Additionally, the West Ham Under-18s are flying high in the U18’s Premier League South – top of the table by 13 points have played 13, won 12 and lost just one.