West Ham have wasted no time in the New Year and have already signed a centre-half – Doneil Henry – for an undisclosed fee from Cypriot side Apollon Limassol.
The 21-year-old Canadian international was recommended to Sam Allardyce by Ryan Nelsen – his former captain at Blackburn Rovers – who had the young defender on-loan during his spell as manager of Toronto FC.
It was said that Henry has “Premier League potential” and this is thought to be the sole basis on which Allardyce has been convinced to sign the MLS star.
The 6ft 2in centre-back has spent two periods training with the Hammers in recent months so the manager and staff have seen first-hand what he is capable of, the fact they have now tied him down to a long-term contract speaks volumes of his potential.
Henry played 92 times for Toronto having graduated from their academy and despite his tender years, he already has extensive experience at club, continental and international levels.
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English football, though, is another prospect entirely and only time will tell if Henry can thrive in one of the most physically demanding leagues in the world.
West Ham were in the market for a central defender during this transfer window and with little budget available, Henry could prove to be another shrewd piece of business by the club.
Just from looking at the player you can see he is most certainly built for the English game and should be able to cope with the physicality he’ll come up against. He’s an imposing figure; it will perhaps depend on how he adapts to his new surroundings and if he can cope with the increased intensity.
Henry certainly doesn’t sound phased by it all and his confidence and positive attitude should bode well for him getting a chance in the first-team sooner rather than later.
"Personally, I want to make my mark as quickly as possible. The only way to develop is by playing games and putting yourself under pressure. It's all good for players to get opportunities so the sooner I can get into the mix the better,” Henry told the official club website.
"The standard here is really good. I definitely feel I can compete so I just need to adapt to what they want to do here and I don't think I'll have a problem."
One for the future
At 21, the defender still has a lot of learning to do and with the Hammers currently pushing for possible European qualification this term they may be in need of a more experienced signing.
Winston Reid’s future is still up in the air, with it looking likely he will leave as a free agent in the summer, although the club would probably prefer to sell if a good offer comes in during this window. However that would leave a gaping hole in their defence and one which may be too soon for Henry to competently fill.
Before January’s up we can definitely expect to see a few more comings and goings at Upton Park and another centre-half has got to be a priority for Allardyce.
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