West Ham United may have another Declan Rice coming through the system at Chadwell Heath.
16-year-old defender Kaelan Casey has been named in the Guardian’s ‘Next Generation’ list for 2021, in which the 20 best up-and-coming talents at Premier League clubs are profiled.
It’s claimed that the towering centre-back has been making impressive strides in the youth set-up, leading to his inclusion in the U21 squad that defeated Ipswich Town in the EFL Trophy recently.
There are hopes that Casey will go on to forge a great career in north London and his ability on the ball has earned lofty comparisons to the England international, who can also be deployed in defence.
In fact, the young teenager is said to look up to his fellow Hammers academy graduate for inspiration, so much so that he hopes to replicate such a feat.
West Ham’s official website describes Casey as “an imposing, ball-playing” defender and at a little over 6-foot in height, he isn’t far off being a carbon copy of Rice himself.
The Irons picked up the 22-year-old from Chelsea’s academy following his release in 2014 and within three years, he had made his professional debut for the club.
A year later, Rice was named the runner up for the ‘Player of the Year’ award, only showing the sort of impact he made on the club’s staff and management.
Casey is far from breaching into Moyes’ first-team but the early signs are positive, so surely it’s only a matter of time before he’s given an opportunity. It may not be this season but certainly, in the next two to three years, we could well see the 16-year-old gem involved just like Rice was.
Whether his future lies in defence or a little further afield very much remains to be seen, though his skill set seems primed for either role.