West Ham boast of one of the best youth setups in England, with a long line of superstars emerging from the Hammers famous Academy.
Declan Rice is one of the club’s latest graduates making waves, and Grady Diangana looks set to follow suit.
Youth players find it hard to make the grade and break into their sides’ senior team on a permanent basis these days, and one can only wonder if manager Manuel Pellegrini can record success where former boss Slaven Bilic struggled.
The Chilean handed Diangana his first-team debut of recent, and after taking his chance by grabbing a brace in the 8-0 League Cup win over Macclesfield Town, he has been rewarded with an extended stay with the senior side.
The 20-year-old has stayed back at Rush Green this week ahead of Friday’s trip to Brighton, rather than being sent back to the U23s, and should he continue to impress Pellegrini, a permanent promotion could be on the cards.
However, he is not the first talented youth player to have been handed an opportunity in recent seasons, and it remains to be seen if the manager can get the best out of him on a permanent basis.
Under Bilic, the trio of Reece Oxford, Domingos Quina and Toni Martinez got to feature for the senior side, but none of them is with the team at the moment.
Oxford is back with the under-23’s despite looking like the next big-thing in that season opener against Arsenal in 2015, while Portugal youth international Quina left for Watford this summer on a four-year deal after just six games for West Ham’s senior side.
Despite netting 12 goals in 11 games for West Ham’s under-23s at a point upon his arrival in 2017, Martinez is currently on a season-long loan with Spanish second-division side Rayo Majadahonda.
While the trio might have flattered to deceive, it is safe to say Bilic failed to get the best out of them.
Another top talent in Diangana is coming through the youth setup, and given how little success has been recorded with making youngsters permanent first-team members of recent, Pellegrini will be pulling off a masterstroke if he successfully turns the winger into a star.