West Ham United’s summer transfer window was almost perfect.
David Moyes bolstered his playing squad with some solid additions, including Champions League winner Kurt Zouma and a new playmaker to fill Jesse Lingard’s void in Nikola Vlasic.
However, there are still some gaps to plug, particularly up front and out wide.
The 58-year-old only has one recognised striker, whilst you could argue that his full-back options aren’t the strongest aside from starting duo Aaron Creswell and Vladimir Coufal.
It’s exactly why a new signing in the role was thought to be among the list of priorities this window, as per Sky Sports back in May.
However, Moyes may have a long-term solution to that problem right under his nose, if he chooses to keep the faith with young defender Ben Johnson, whose versatile nature of being able to play on both flanks and in the middle could be a game-changer for years to come.
In his first start for the club in 2020/21, Johnson found the net against Brighton and went on to win the club’s Young Player of the Year award.
Across 19 Premier League games, he has proven his ability at the very top – as per WhoScored, the Rush Green graduate has averaged 2.1 tackles per 90 minutes at a success rate of 77.7%, as well as 1.6 interceptions, 1.4 aerial duels won and 1.1 dribbles per 90 minutes.
His tackling rate suggests that he is more than capable of battling with top-flight opposition. By comparison, this would rank him very favourably against both Cresswell (two) and Coufal (3.3) based on the current season so far.
Plenty around the club and those who have watched Johnson closely have regularly praised his ability. Irons legend Frank McAvennie dubbed him “a joy to watch” to Football Insider back in June 2020, whilst Gary Neville waxed lyrical about him on Sky Sports after his showing against Manchester United.
“I had a good look at him (Johnson) on Friday night, really impressed,” he said (as sourced by Hammers.News). “I’m always interested when a right-back comes into the game, (especially) a young player. His body shape was good on crosses from the opposite side, he did the right things when he was one-on-one, he understands the position. (He) looks an excellent defender.”
Meanwhile, the West Ham Way’s Dave Walker dubbed him “one hell of a player” earlier this year, saying: “He’s got a big future at West Ham. He’s been with us since he was seven years old. He’s blown me away recently, I like him a lot.”
With a congested fixture list on the horizon for the Hammers, Johnson should start to see more minutes on the pitch, and if that’s the case, he could well show Moyes and the club that he’s the long-term heir in the full-back position.
Johnson can save GSB millions for years to come if the Scottish head coach continues to develop the impressive Irons talent.