Three West Ham youngsters ready for a big year in 2022: Emmanuel Longelo, Sonny Perkins, Ben Johnson
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2021 has been a brilliant year overall for David Moyes and West Ham as they have reached the knockout stages of the Europa League and appear to be claiming a top-four spot, even with a stumbling run of recent form.
Here are three young players who could make 2022 even more exciting …
Former striker turned full-back, Longelo was the star of the show when Moyes gave a number of academy players the chance to shine against Dinamo Zagreb in the Europa League.
The 20-year-old’s past as a forward was visible in the way he moved forward with the ball, unafraid to overtake opponents in front of him and look to create opportunities for the future.
West Ham might have lost that night but it wasn’t Longelo’s fault and the youngster remained solid at the back.
Along with Aaron Cresswell, Moyes will want to keep an eye on Longelo’s development over the next year or so.
The 17-year-old who has just converted to a forward thrived at youth level this season and was rewarded with a Europa League appearance on the bench in Vienna before making his debut at London Stadium in the next round.
Nine goals in 15 appearances for the West Ham Academy teams certainly grabbed attention, but it was Perkins’ pace of work that impressed Moyes so much.
The Scotsman will not have players who are not ready to work and Perkins is relentless in his run, squeezing defenders and looking to get behind, while he has also trusted the ball.
It may be some time before he can be seen as an alternative to the top of the first team, but Perkins appears to have a future in east London.
It was a decisive season for the full-back. Earlier in the campaign, Johnson shot from a third-choice right-back whose only chances had come from the defense left at the top of the stack in his preferred position.
Following the injury to Vladimir Coufal, the 21-year-old impressed at Everton before putting on superb performances against Tottenham, Liverpool and Manchester City while scoring a fine goal at Aston Villa.
Johnson has quit due to injury, but the past few months have transformed his position at the club.
A new deal and a lot more chances are expected to follow in the new year.
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