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West Ham: Ben Johnson’s market value is soaring

West Ham United have long been recognised as one of the frontrunners in youth development, earning themselves the nickname of the ‘Academy of Football’ in the process.

From the days of producing Frank Lampard, Joe Cole and Rio Ferdinand – among others – right the way through to the present with the likes of Declan Rice, there has seemingly been an endless conveyor belt of talent streaming out of the youth ranks and into the Hammers first team.

One young starlet who has joined that illustrious list over the past few years is versatile full-back Ben Johnson, the 22-year-old having shone since making his senior debut back in 2018.

While he made just a handful of appearances across his first two campaigns in the first-team set-up, he has since gone to enjoy much more regular game time over the past couple of seasons, having now made 53 appearances for the club in all competitions.

The current campaign has proven a particular turning point for the home-grown star – who was voted the club’s Young Player of the Year last season – as he has often slotted in ahead of Vladimir Coufal at right-back, both domestically and in the Europa League.

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Such displays have piqued the interest of those at international level, with the £2.5k-per-week ace having been handed his England U21 debut earlier this year in a 3-0 victory over Albania, while he also earned praise from his club boss, with Moyes dubbing him a “utility player” for his ability to slot in at different positions.

Being seen as a jack of all trades but a master of none may at times be a hindrance rather than a help to a player’s career, although the Hammers boss certainly views his versatility as a benefit, with first-team coach Stuart Pearce having also praised the youngster for being a “wonderful professional”.

It is not just within the London Stadium that his talents are being recognised, however, with pundit Paul Robinson labelling the full-back as “absolutely brilliant” earlier this season, with that view having also been echoed by former Hammer, Trevor Sinclair.

Amid an outstanding season for the club as a whole – with European glory still up for grabs – Johnson’s individual showings have also been particularly eye-catching, with the Waltham Forest-born speedster averaging an impressive 1.8 tackles and 1.2 interceptions per game.

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His willingness to commit to Moyes’ often dogged defensive style is also evident by the fact that he ranks in the top 1% for blocks made among those in his position in Europe’s top five leagues, while he also ranks in the top 10% for clearances made, as per FBref.

The 5 foot 9 defender is clearly a player on the rise, something reflected in his soaring market valuation, with Transfermarkt currently valuing him at £8.1m – a significant increase from his value of £2.7m back in December.

The only problem now is ensuring that his future remains in east London with the player having reportedly rejected a new six-and-a-half-year deal earlier this season, albeit with the club managing to trigger a two-year contract extension to avoid losing him for nothing this summer.

Much like West Ham’s form, the starlet’s value and performances continue to soar – it remains to be seen if that progression will continue with his current club, or elsewhere.

In other news, West Ham plot bid to sign £25.2m-rated “great talent”, he’s a big Ogbonna upgrade – opinion

Article title: West Ham: Ben Johnson’s market value is soaring

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