West Ham youth striker Xande Silva could be the man to fill Andy Carroll’s vacant number nine shirt, according to Football.London journalist Sam Inkersole.
The 22-year-old Portuguese forward has been in eye-catching form for the U23s, scoring seven in eight appearances last season.
And Inkersole believes that there is a faint chance that he could be the man to take up the mantle of the famous shirt now that Carroll has left the club.
Writing for Football.London, he said: “The rank outsider, the 100-1 horse in the race, but he is a striker and expected to feature in the first team at some stage this season should he continue his excellent development from the first half of 2018/19.
“He’s worn the nine shirt for the U23s already so he’s accustomed to it.”
At the end of the day, a shirt number is largely just that: a number on a shirt. Does it really have any effect on the way that a player performs? No, of course not. Would it represent a massive show of faith form Manuel Pellegrini to hand the number nine to Silva? Absolutely. The 22-year-old looks for all the world as if he is on the cusp of a breakout season. That phenomenal goalscoring record for the U23s should be enough to get supporters excited, but if it’s not, then Silva’s 17 minutes of first team action to date were pretty impressive too. Two shots on goal, dispossessed just once, one key pass [Whoscored], this was a player who seamlessly slotted into the action, taking to it like a duck to water. If we’re being honest, Silva probably won’t be given the number nine this summer, but it could be his one day in the future if he really wants it.