West Ham United boast arguably one of the best and most fruitful academy set-ups around, having proven themselves absolute masters at producing and nurturing young talent over the years.
Responsible for developing the likes of Joe Coe, Rio Ferdinand, Frank Lampard – and many others – in the modern era, the Hammers continually appear to put their faith in their rising stars, with there a clear willingness to promote from within at the London Stadium.
One young man who could well be the next highly-rated prospect to force his way into the first-team reckoning is 19-year-old, Freddie Potts, with the midfielder having already had a brief taste of senior action in recent times.
The impressive teenager – who is the son of Irons legend Steve Potts – was handed his first-team bow by current boss David Moyes back in December, making a late cameo appearance off the bench in the Europa League, group stage defeat to Dinamo Zagreb.
That outing – which remains the youngster’s only senior appearance to date – came just a matter of months after signing his first professional contract for the east London outfit, having been at the club since the age of six.
The Englishman is clearly someone who has impressed in his rise through the age groups over the years, with The Athletic’s Roshane Thomas previously labelling him as the “best prospect at the club”.
Also praised for his “composed” manner by youth team coach Gerard Prenderville, the £225k-rated starlet could well be looking to emulate current West Ham skipper Declan Rice, with the 23-year-old having also emerged from the academy set-up to become a vital figure for the Irons.
The England international has assumed the armband following the departure of long-serving stalwart Mark Noble, with that responsibility a marker of just how important the 32-cap colossus has become in recent years.
Having been thrust into the action at the age of just 18 at the tail end of the 2016/17 season, the £60k-per-week menace has gone from strength to strength since then, while also taking on a prominent role at international level under Gareth Southgate – featuring in all seven games at last summer’s European Championship.
Such has been his meteoric rise of late, the suggestion is that Rice could now even command a fee of around £150m, with his composed and dominant displays in the centre of the park seeing him emerge as arguably the “best central midfielder in the country”, in the words of pundit Paul Parker.
With speculation still rife over the player’s long-term future, however, it may require Moyes to seek out a possible heir, with young Potts no doubt a potential successor in that midfield berth.