West Ham United may already have their Sebastien Haller heir in academy striker Mipo Odubeko after the Under 23s star scored a brace against Southampton on Friday.
The Irons have been scouring the transfer market across Europe all month after the unexpected departure of Haller, with the decision to cash-in on the Ivory Coast international leaving Michail Antonio as boss David Moyes’ only recognised senior striker.
Talks are said to be ongoing with RB Leipzig over a loan deal for Hwang Hee-Chan, but West Ham are sweating over the move collapsing amid rival interest from 1.FSV Mainz 05.
The interest in the South Korea international comes after they failed to reach agreements with Stade de Reims for Boulaye Dia or Sevilla for Youssef En-Nesyri among a plethora of other names, with Josh King now said to be their top target according to talkSPORT, although he’d reportedly cost £10m according to The Athletic’s Wolves correspondent Tim Spiers.
But Moyes may not have to fear failing to secure a centre-forward in the winter market given Odubeko’s impressive return to action, having scored twice to push West Ham’s U23s into a controlling lead over Southampton on Friday night in what was his first Premier League 2 outing of the season.
The 18-year-old broke the deadlock with a simple finish after Oladapo Afolayan unselfishly squared the ball and soon doubled his account again from close range, before also assisting Dan Chesters midway through the second half to round out the scoring.
Odubeko had sustained a serious hamstring injury last term that, as well as the coronavirus situation, saw the forward sit out much of the past six months, making only one EFL Trophy appearance before earning his senior debut in the FA Cup at Stockport earlier this month.
Moyes has since named the former Republic of Ireland U17 international on the bench for two Premier League fixtures and, while he is yet to introduce Odubeko to the action, has declared that he and West Ham have “big hopes” for what he can achieve in east London.
Moyes has been tipped to look fondly on Odubeko if West Ham fail to sign a new striker this month, with the Irons boss thought to be keen on seeing what the teen star can offer the first-team after his impressive developments since joining the club in October 2019.
The Scot has even noted that opportunities will be there for Odubeko, adding “we will try and bring him along and [use] him at the right time,” and there should be few concerns that the youngster can prove beneficial having clearly not lost his touch despite months out of the game.
Odubeko knew where to be to cause Southampton problems on Friday, and showed true poacher’s instincts to tap home his second when Allan Tchapchet’s clearance fell invitingly into his path.
He now has five goals in three U23s games to his name after scoring nine in seven for the U18s, and it surely will not be long before Odubeko has a senior goal to his name. Especially given all the attributes Bernard Byrne, who was Odubeko’s head coach for St Joseph’s, rallied off while describing the “special” talent to The Athletic:
“He’s the reason why people will go to football games. He’s fast, dynamic, strong, he can score all sorts of goals and he’s good in the air. He’s a proper centre-forward. He’s a player that West Ham fans will be excited about.”
GSB could save millions here then by using Odubeko and Michail Antonio as their striker options across the remainder of the campaign.
AND in other news, West Ham eye late loan for teen gem who “makes the game look easy”…