West Ham’s problems are well documented; you only need to look at the league table to see that they are struggling. One of the few positives for them is the crop of young players that are coming through to the first-team. The likes of Zavon Hines, James Tomkins, Jack Collison and Junior Stanislas have all broken into the starting eleven and seem set to have bright futures in the game. While these players have come through the youth setup, Zola has also brought in a couple of young players from elsewhere such as Frank Nouble and the subject of this article, Fabio Daprela.
Daprela is an 18-year-old Swiss left-back who was signed over the summer from Grasshopper for a nominal fee and under relatively little fanfare. He was signed as a back-up for Herita Ilunga who is West Ham’s first choice left-back and one of their most consistent players. Ilunga has been in good form this season and Daprela has yet to make his first-team debut. He was selected on the bench for the first time for the Carling Cup tie against Millwall earlier this season and despite making the match-day squad on other occasions he is still awaiting the chance to make an appearance though he is a regular in the reserve side.
At 18 years-of age Daprela is certainly one for the future; he has his compatriot Valon Behrami to help him settle into life in England and the Premier League, so the transition will not be as difficult as it can be for a young foreign player. Daprela has shown some promise in training but Congo’s failure to qualify for the African Cup of Nations means that Ilunga will not be absent during that period so the young defender will have to continue to wait for his chance.
Daprela is still young and has much to develop in his game, but he has good stamina and an impressive work-rate in addition to his natural technical ability. West Ham legend Julian Dicks recently proclaimed that ‘the likes of Radoslav Kovac and Fabio Daprela are not up to it’ but this assessment is premature and Daprela has enough character to not let such negative feedback affect him. He is progressing well in the reserves and may well be a future star.