David Sullivan can seal West Ham United’s next-generation midfield unit with the January transfer of Derby County’s highly-rated talent Jason Knight.
According to the Irish Mirror, Knight is at the centre of a three-way Premier League battle in the winter sales with Burnley, Crystal Palace and the Irons all serious about striking a deal.
David Moyes and Roy Hodgson each have the 19-year-old high on their shortlists for mid-season reinforcements, while Sean Dyche’s Clarets have already expressed their interest in a move.
Derby would be expecting a bidding war to erupt this month with Knight under contract at Pride Park through to 2023, while his continued rise has seen his stock skyrocket this season with interim head coach Wayne Rooney a huge fan.
Republic of Ireland boss Stephen Kenny also holds Knight in high-regard following his late call-up to the senior squad in October and impressing in clashes with Wales and Bulgaria, despite initially being set for a role in the Under 21s.
Knight has started 21 of his 22 Championship appearances thus far this season and proved to be creative and vastly versatile, with two goals in eight outings in an attacking midfield role alongside minutes on either wing and in a defensive engine room capacity.
West Ham winning the emerging race for Knight’s services could see Sullivan secure Moyes his next Mark Noble and seal the Irons’ next-generation midfield unit by tieing the 19-year-old down to a long-term contract at the London Stadium.
Moyes is due to lose Noble this summer when his £50,000-per-week contract expires, and would not appear set for renewed terms with Mr West Ham playing just 223 minutes of Premier League football thus far this season as Declan Rice and Tomas Soucek lock out the deep-lying roles.
But Knight could be the one to arrive and offer the level of competition Noble can no longer bring having displayed incredible potential with Derby, where the teen talent tears around the field intently harrying opponents as a rare bright spot of a torrid Rams season.
Knight’s all-energy approach has seen him earn rave reviews from those in the Derby ranks, including first-team coach Justin Walker who likens the 5 ft 8 maestro to Manchester United great Roy Keane.
“There’s 100 per cent a bit of Roy Keane in him,” Walker told The Athletic. “I started at Forest as a young kid, so I had the first-hand experience of Roy. I watched him develop at a similar age to Jason when he stepped into Forest’s team. It’s not a lazy comparison, there are some comps in there. But it comes down to self-drive and motivation.”
Knight has brought more than just energy to Pride Park this season, with the 19-year-old a box-to-box threat creating 0.6 shots and 0.6 key balls per Championship game this season along with 1.1 successful tackles, 0.8 dribbles and 5.3 duels won, per SofaScore.
AND in other news, David Moyes must consider a drastic U-turn on an £18m-rated West Ham “monster”.