With Angelo Ogbonna and Issa Diop performing so well for West Ham United this season, other centre-backs are going somewhat under-the-radar.
Fabian Balbuena is on the bench, but it’s an academy defender that appears to be grabbing the headlines at the beginning of the campaign.
At only 15-years-old, Jamal Baptiste has starred for the under-23s this season, featuring in the Premier League International Cup against Valencia B, keeping a clean-sheet in a 1-0 victory.
The Athletic journalist, Roshane Thomas shared on his personal Twitter account after that game that the young enforcer looked “very comfortable” despite easily being the youngest player on the park.
It’s not only journalists that Baptiste has impressed though this season, as Premier League giants Manchester United appear to have taken a strong interest too.
Speaking on the West Ham Way podcast, reliable club source, ExWHUemployee, revealed that the Red Devils have watched the young defensive starlet numerous times.
“Jamal Baptiste, a 15-year-old, played for the under-23s,” he said.
“He’s a centre-back, meant to be very highly-rated. However, Manchester United sent a scout to watch him, and they’ve sent the same scout to watch him two or three times now.”
Baptiste has consistently proved that he can play at a level much higher than his age over the past year, featuring for England under-18s in the past year.
The 15-year-old kept his spot in the under-23s for the 2-0 victory against West Brom on Monday.
Football.London journalist Sam Inkersole recently tipped the enforcer to be the next bright defender to come out of Chadwell Heath for the Hammers, potentially following in the footsteps of Rio Ferdinand and Bobby Moore.
With a glowing reputation in East London, it is no surprise that some of the biggest Premier League clubs could start sniffing around the 15-year-old, and West Ham must do all they can to secure his future.