Is the Academy of Football really the future of West Ham?
Author: Emily Pulham. Published: 21 October 2020 at 5:59pm
West Ham’s Academy of Football has been well respected for many years throughout the English football league for nurturing talent and producing well-rounded footballers, many of whom go on to achieve elsewhere. Which begs the question, does it actually benefit West Ham United FC?
This transfer window in particular has seen the frustrated fans again disappointed as three highly regarded Academy products have been sold or sent out on loan despite the squad being low in numbers. Firstly, Grady Diangana’s sale to direct Premier League rivals, West Brom, has quite rightly caused uproar as the chairman excused this sale as a way to reinforce the somewhat shaky defence. However, the chairman’s promise has fallen short and instead we have sold an extremely promising young talent for a more expensive (but not Premier League proven), winger. The logic is baffling.
In addition, Josh Cullen, who at 24 can no longer be part of the Academy set up, had in many fans’ eyes at least earned the right to be a squad fringe player based on his impressive performances of late. With a squad so thin on numbers, it is again quite staggering that the club have instead opted to sell him to Holland’s Anderlecht for a reported mere £450K. Hardly seems the most sensible move from either a team or business perspective.
Finally, with our first team striker – yes singular – currently out of form and the first team relying on Antonio as our single strike force, the loaning of Academy striker Xande Silva seems another strange decision by the board. He has scored regularly for the U23s recently, resulting in calls from the fans to give him a chance in the first team despite his inexperience at Premier League level. The fear of many fans is that we are only one injury away from having only an out of form striker to play during such a tough part of our season.
With a squad depleted of numbers and having one of the highest average ages in the Premier League, the decisions to sell and loan young player in key positions seems highly questionable. It also makes fans question, what is the point of having an Academy if it only produces well-rounded players for other teams to reap the benefits?