West Ham’s famed Academy is once again producing the players that once graced the claret and blue in previous decades.
Their development is raising eyebrows among football’s top table and most glance an envious eye over the talent edging towards the first team.
Josh Cullen, Reece Oxford and Reece Burke are just a few of the players gaining a reputation for their play, but equally the club have invested in some unique talent as well.
With the depth of the squad at it’s strongest in years, Slaven Bilic will need all of his man management skills to keep everyone happy, but with a possible lengthy run in Europe and the domestic cups, plus a long arduous Premier League season as well, every player will earn his stripes at some point.
So who are the four that will be knocking on the manager’s door this season? Here are four young Hammers ready to go and eager to play…
Signed from Manchester City last summer, the 19-year-old has already made more than a great impression at West Ham and on loan at Peterborough last season. The full Norway international played in the early rounds of the Europa League last year and is one for the future.
In an interview on the whufc.com site, Samuelson said that he had learnt a lot from playing in League One: “With Peterborough in League One, I’ve learnt the tough side of the game; the physical side, that every game means something.
“People are fighting for their lives. It was a good experience for me and I think I’m a stronger person and better player from it.”
The ex-Chelsea youngster feared he would never be handed a chance to shine at Stamford Bridge and subsequently cut off all ties on his return from international duty with Portugal’s U17s earlier this year.
The deal taking him to east London should be regarded as a real coup for Slaven Bilic, with a number of top Premier League sides chasing the attacking midfielder.
Quina signed on as a scholar at West Ham meaning no fee has to be paid, although he will be able to agree his first professional deal with the Hammers once he turns 17.
Quina has caught the eye with his penchant for a dazzling dribble and fleet-footed skills. Deployed predominantly as a No.10, his pace and poise means he is equally adept out wide or as part of a front three.
The ex-Blues’ youngster is capable of some spectacular strikes from distance and caught the eye of major Premier League clubs.
West Ham signed the teenager from Valencia on a three-year contract this summer. The 19-year-old Spain U17 international cost £2.4m with Valencia reserving the right to first refusal if West Ham decide to sell the frontman, who Hammers boss Slaven Bilic has previously referred to as ‘one of the brightest talents from Valencia’, further down the line.
Martinez, a prolific goalscorer for Valencia’s youth team, will initially link up with West Ham’s development squad but hopes to break into the first team and run out at the Olympic Stadium next season.
The Murcia-born frontman, who was also part of the Spain U19 squad which won the 2015 UEFA European Championship title, featured eight times for Valencia in the UEFA Youth League last season, scoring once and recording three assists as his side reached the Round of 16 before being eliminated on penalties by Chelsea.
Recently signed from Manchester United, Fletcher is another to escape the big clubs in search of playing time and further development of their career.
The 20-year-old shone whilst on loan at Barnsley last season, scoring nine goals in 27 appearances and was snapped on a free transfer by Bilic, who is seemingly building a dynasty at the Olympic Stadium.
The England U20 international hopes to make an impression on West Ham boss Bilic during the remainder of West Ham’s tour of Austria as he spies a spot in the Croatian’s European squad.
His time could come quicker than he imagined, as The Hammers prepare for Europa League action in the coming days.