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Jamal Baptiste: West Ham’s “next Rio” Ferdinand?

West Ham United could have another Rio Ferdinand in their academy ranks right now.

David Moyes has so far maintained the Irons’ fine progress under his stewardship despite losing two key centre-backs in Angelo Ogbonna, who was ruled out for the season with an ACL tear back in mid-November, and Kurt Zouma, who could also be absent with an ankle problem until the summer.

The Scotsman turned to Issa Diop and Craig Dawson for their impressive victory and clean sheet against Lyon last week and the pair kept their place for the 1-1 draw with managerless Burnley at the weekend.

But without another alternative available or even on the bench, perhaps Moyes should turn to the youth system, where he will find a promising talent in Jamal Baptiste.

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He knows the 18-year-old defender well, having handed him his senior debut in the FA Cup before unleashing him for the full 90 minutes in a Europa League group game earlier this season.

According to some that have been around the youngster, Baptiste is one of the top prospects at Rush Green.

“One of the finest young prospects at the club without any doubt is 15-year-old Jamal Baptiste, who believe me is going to be a monster player in the Issa Diop mould,” once claimed former academy chief Terry Westley to Claret and Hugh back in 2019.

“He’s got everything, height, power, pace and is already, at such a young age, making a serious impact on the under 23s.”

But perhaps the most glowing endorsement has come from Carlton Cole, who is part of the academy set-up at the Hammers these days – speaking to the ‘Irons Inside’ podcast, he likened the teenage colossus to both Ferdinands, Anton and Rio.

“He’s going to be the next Anton Ferdinand hopefully or the next Rio, so hopefully we can these boys on the right track and help them transition into being a professional footballer full-time,” he said, before also lauding him as a “massive prospect.”

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Can you name all 10 ex-Hammers? First up... He assisted the first goal at the London Stadium but made only 8 appearances for the Irons, who is he?

Even when Ogbonna, 33, does return, there will be doubts over his potential to gain his starting place back, whilst Dawson, 31, isn’t getting any younger either, so transitioning someone like Baptiste into the first-team squad over the coming months could be hugely beneficial in the long run.

The more experience he gets alongside these veterans, the better, and as such, he could save GSB and West Ham millions of pounds in upcoming transfer windows.

It would be a very wise decision indeed.

AND in other news, GSB must seal West Ham deal for “sensational” £70k-p/w colossus, he’s “solid as a rock”

Article title: Jamal Baptiste: West Ham’s “next Rio” Ferdinand?

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