Reports by Football Insider earlier this month claimed West Ham Untied could rival Arsenal for the signature of Ajani Burchall, and David Moyes should be pushing the Irons hierarchy to secure the services of the AFC Bournemouth contract rebel.
It was initially proposed by The Sun that the Gunners had begun chasing Burchall on a free transfer after the 16-year-old whizkid snubbed a scholarship offer from his Championship side.
Now, the teenage forward is set to leave the Vitality Stadium in the summer and has several Premier League sides queueing up for his capture, headed by Mikel Arteta’s north London natives.
West Ham are said to be paying close attention to developments regarding the Bermudan youngster, who is still at school, after he became the Cherries’ third-youngster-ever senior player when handed his debut as a late substitute against Huddersfield Town in December.
He is yet to add to his record following Jason Tindall’s sacking, with interim head coach Jonathan Woodgate opting against awarding the winger any first-team involvement so far.
Tindall was a firm believer in Burchall’s potential, telling the Daily Echo in December: “I’ve been aware of Ajani for a while. Ajani’s been one that has been performing consistently well for some time now.”
Burchall also has a lot of confidence in himself and takes pride in his regular place in Bournemouth’s Under 18s despite his tender age.
“I feel privileged that I’m 16 playing with the Under 18s, but I’m striving to be one of the best on the Under 18 squad,” he said, via quotes by Ber News.
West Ham should now be positing themselves strongly to lure Burchall to east London and afford the teenager the chance to prove himself as one of the best in Kevin Keen’s U18s, as the Bournemouth product could go on to become the Irons next Declan Rice.
Obviously, Rice and Burchall play in two completely separate positions, but West Ham signed Rice after he was rejected in his teens by Chelsea and nurtured the midfielder into a fully-fledged Premier League star and England international.
His progress also saw the London Stadium natives slap an £80m asking price on the 22-year-old last summer as Frank Lampard sought to lure Rice back to Stamford Bridge, while the 13-time Three Lions star’s efforts since are said to have Liverpool and Manchester United paying close attention.
It’s too early to say if Burchall can go on to become a forward worth as much to West Ham as Rice is, but his potential is evident in his will to take on opponents and display his eye for goal in Bournemouth’s academy ranks.
The Cherries laud their young prodigy for his tough-tackling, hard-working and exciting play on the wings in Alan Connell’s side, where he has played a majority of matches available this term, as well.
If the 16-year-old can continue to build on his early promise, gain a greater taste of senior football and arrive for free, it’s surely a no brainer for West Ham to rival Arsenal.