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If only we had noticed his talent!

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Leon Britton was signed by West Ham from Arsenal for a fee of £400,000 in 1998 which was the highest transfer fee ever for a 16 year old at the time. Despite this, Britton never made a senior

appearance for the Hammers and was released in 2003, after spending the season on loan at Swansea, who at the time were in the ‘Third Division’ fighting to stay in the Football League. Swansea signed him on a full time contract after his loan and he worked his way up with the Swans to the Championship, where he also spent a season with Sheffield United and is now playing in the Premier League, in a side who have been praised for their style and philosophy of football. Brendan Rodgers’ side have been a breath of fresh air in the Premier League, playing with style and elegance while showing many top sides the movement of modern football.

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Swansea’s little man is only 5 foot 5 inches, however he has controlled the midfield for Swansea this season alongside young Joe Allen (who is only an inch taller than Britton). The midfield maestro was revealed to be the world’s best passer, with a pass completion rate of 93.3%, which is a better pass completion rate than Xavi Hernandez. The defensive midfielder, playing in the ‘pivot’ role as it is known in Spain (the holding midfielder who receives the ball in space in front of the defensive line and dictates play) has been the heart of the Swansea team this season, who have had a very successful campaign, beating teams such as Arsenal and Manchester City, not to mention enlightening the Premier League with their attacking and expressive football. It is not surprising that many people have called for Britton to figure in the England side for this year’s European Championship.

Britton epitomises the evolution of football. Luckily for Britton, he is part of a team which is playing a brand of football which suits him perfectly. Swansea’s ‘Tika Taka’ style (if you are not familiar with Tika Taka, may I suggest reading the ‘Death of the Target Man’ articles) utilises Britton’s passing ability and mental strengths. Football is becoming a game which is no longer dominated by the big, strong and tall players, but the little men, who think quick and act quick. Football has been taken over by the little guys, whose technical abilities beat strength and power and Britton has been a general in this football movement here in England.

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In my view, Swansea’s Mr. Reliable is exactly what we are missing. During the January transfer window, Swansea signed Gylfi Sigurdsson on loan from Hoffenheim. The Icelandic attacking midfielder has been a revelation for the Swans, scoring 5 goals and providing 2 assists. Sigurdsson has been able to shine in an attacking role because Britton has been playing so well in the ‘pivote’ role, recycling possession quickly and simply. Britton plays like a modern day Pep Guardiola. He reads the game exceptionally well, moves the ball quickly and hardly ever misplaces a pass. He isn’t a hard-tackling machine, but his anticipation makes up for this and he has dominated games against

world-class midfielders. The way that he takes hold of the ball and dictates the play from midfield is what we have been missing this season, partly to do with the tactics, but also partly to do with the

lack of a creative midfielder.

So why did we let him go? It seems to be that the recent football revolution came a bit too late for Britton regarding his West Ham career. Maybe he was judged to be too small, or didn’t perform well enough during his time at West Ham to earn a place in the first team. Whatever the reason is, letting him go was a mistake.

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4 comments
  • Legends says:

    Fully agree that it’s not size that counts. it’s what you can do with the ball.
    English youth football, generally speaking, is dominated by the strongest, fastest and most physically capable players. These are the players that break through and get professional contracts, more often than not. (..Unless you happen to be related to a footballer or ex footballer.)
    It’s the Chelsea philosophy. Or looked at from another point of view, it’s English football. … The Barcelona philosophy wins every time for me. And for me, West Ham should aiming for the Barcelona style. Why? Because it’s more in line with our brand of football. And it’s what the fans want.

  • CB says:

    cheers Redknapp

    good decision to let him go there Harry

    Was thought to be too small

  • Ian says:

    If harry let him go he probably didn’t have the right agent

  • Spence says:

    Ive been watching loads of Hammers players over the past few seasons and wondering why I couldnt notice any talent…………

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