Oscar Borg will reportedly commit himself to professional terms with West Ham after the coveted teenager, who has drawn comparisons to Gareth Bale, failed to complete a move to Manchester United.
Manchester United interest
Borg had undergone a trial period with Manchester United this summer, impressing during his appearances at the Milk Cup, and the club approached West Ham regarding a permanent deal for the 16-year-old.
However, a financial compensation package was not reached and Manchester United ended their interest in the versatile left-sided player. Following this it is now reported by the Daily Star that Borg will sign a lucrative two-year contract with West Ham.
This is news that will be greatly received by West Ham supporters, who have endured something of a barren spell from their esteemed academy after a sustained period of success for producing talent of repute.
The mid-to-late 1990s were halcyon days for the Upton Park production line, as Rio Ferdinand, Frank Lampard, Michael Carrick and Joe Cole all came through the ranks, later followed by Jermain Defoe and Glen Johnson. These players have accounted for a total of 385 England appearances.
Ferdinand and Carrick, meanwhile, earned a total of 11 Premier League medals between them during the time they spent together with Manchester United, while Lampard and Cole each one the title on three occasions with Chelsea.
There are, of course, also notable European finals, FA Cup wins and World Cup appearances, but West Ham fans have not seen a player of the same standards progress through their system in a decade.
Mark Noble and James Tomkins are currently the only established first-team players to have come from the heralded Academy of Football and are probably the best to have graduated in the time to have elapsed since Johnson’s departure.
But another fertile era appears to be on the horizon for the east London club. Along with Borg there is also Reece Oxford - a 15-year-old striker who earned a place on the bench for this season’s Capital One Cup defeat against Sheffield United.
Oxford has, like Borg, also courted attention from Manchester United, but there have also been links with Arsenal and Chelsea. It does, however, remain unclear if the club will be able to keep him from the clutches of these more prominent clubs.
West Ham have proven with Borg at least that they will not be financially outmuscled when it comes to their best young players, and will do all they can to keep them as they build towards an exciting future at the Olympic Stadium.
“It almost makes you give up on having an academy if they can come in and nick your best 15-year-old. What's the point?,” co-owner David Sullivan said earlier this summer.
Sullivan, as will all Hammers, will be hoping Borg and Oxford do indeed stay, although the want and desires of youth team players are far different to those the last time West Ham were able to produce such in-demand starlets.