The Academy of Football at West Ham United is renowned for producing world-class talent. Rio Ferdinand, Frank Lampard and many other big stars have gone on to have glittering careers, but they all began their footballing life in east London.
In recent years, the Academy could be criticised for underachieving in terms of producing top-notch talent. However, it is evident that there is some star quality within Terry Westley’s ranks in the current U23s team.
Here are three players who have the potential to be real stars and who are currently playing as a young Hammer:
- Reece Oxford
The Englishman broke into the West Ham first team at just 16, impressing as a defensive midfielder in a 2-0 win away at Arsenal on the opening day of last season. He can also play as a centre-back as he does with the U23 team, which he captains as an 18-year-old. At almost two metres tall, he is a commanding centre-half who is very vocal on the field in organising the back four. His style of play is very similar to that of Rio Ferdinand, who is someone that Oxford is often compared to.
- Toni Martinez
Martinez arrived from Valencia in the summer and has not disappointed for the young Irons. He is currently the third top scorer in Premier League 2, with 10 goals and two assists in 11 league games, which is a remarkable return for someone who is new to English football. In addition to this, the Spaniard was loaned out to Football League club Oxford United where he scored two goals in the FA Cup against both Middlesbrough and Newcastle.
- Domingos Quina
Quina is another player who arrived last summer and has made a big impact on the West Ham squad at both first team level and U23 level. He featured under Slaven Bilic in the Europa League this season, and plays as a box to box midfielder. Having left Chelsea, there was no doubting that the Guinea-Bissau player had real quality. Some scouts have compared him to N’Golo Kante, for the way he covers every single blade of grass on the field. Under Westley, he has also shown that he knows where the back of the net is.