West Ham United have endured a tough year, with their struggling and ageing squad (joint-oldest in the Premier League) having fallen from European chasers to relegation fighters.

David Moyes attempted something of a summer rebuild as he splashed the cash on eight new players, but given their precarious standing in the top-flight table, it is clear that they are yet to reap the rewards.

Outlays such as £35.5m for Gianluca Scamacca and a club-record £51m expenditure for Lucas Paqueta have looked foolish so far, especially given the proficiency of the talents in the club’s academy.

Moyes may have been tempted by the excitement gained from dipping into the European market, but perhaps if he had looked a little closer to home, he could have saved millions whilst nurturing some homegrown talents of the future.

Who is the next Antonio at West Ham?

One standout name who has been earning vital senior experience in recent years is Mipo Odubeko, with the 20-year-old having received praise for not only the future that he boasts but his performances now.

Former Republic of Ireland international Stephen Kelly was particularly vocal in his praise for the youngster, as he noted last year: “I think he has got great potential. He’s been through the leagues in England. But his pace will push teams back, and offers a penetration which you can’t always get.”

Odubeko’s work throughout the divisions will have offered a fine experience that few others of his age will boast, having spells at Huddersfield Town, Doncaster Rovers and most recently Port Vale.

His current manager Darrell Clark elaborated on a skillset similar to that of tireless cult hero Michail Antonio, claiming of the youngster: “He’s a striker who loves to stretch the line and has that pace to be able to run in behind and he’s heralded as a massive talent at West Ham. His pace will offer other dimensions to our play, and he loves to run in behind a defence”.

How has Odubeko been performing on loan?

With Antonio struggling this season, having scored just two goals in 21 league games, there is a need for a replacement to soon be found. Scamacca was expected to spearhead the attack but is yet to really kickstart his career in east London (three league goals so far), all while Odubeko has been scoring in various divisions across England.

Having notched just three goals in League One this season, it has been a year of growth for the Ireland U21 forward as his body adjusts to the demands of senior football.

He had already proven to be a cut above those in the youth system during the 2020/21 campaign, when he notched ten goals in just nine Premier League 2 games as a teenager. Such form surely merits at least some consideration amongst the West Ham first-team, for whom he has only made two appearances so far.

His playing style resemble that of Antonio, with an impressive physique and speed to match his relentlessness in the press. Also, with a willingness to run the channels, he could certainly be the long-term heir to the Jamaica international, who has seen his performances wane in recent months.

Once Odubeko’s latest loan spell ends, it may be time for Moyes to look at throwing him into the team at his parent club later this year.


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