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Youngster leaves

Aji Alese has joined Sunderland on a permanent deal, the Hammers have confirmed.

The 21-year-old spent 14 years with the club he joined as a boy but he has struggled to make a first-team breakthrough in east London.

An England U20 international with two caps to his name, Alese made just two first-team appearances for the club, playing against Dinamo Zagreb in the Europa League dead rubber last season, and getting 90 minutes in a 5-1 Carabao Cup rout of Hull City the season prior.

Alese went out on loan twice, to Cambridge United and Accrington Stanley, and he is now set to continue his career in the Championship after Sunderland’s promotion.

A highly-rated youngster, the centre-back captained both the U18s and the U23s at West Ham and will now aim to make his name in senior football.

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Alese is 21 now and he has confirmed that he needs to play regular first-team football, and has stepped down a level to do just that.

Speaking to the club’s official website, he said: “I have thoroughly enjoyed my time at West Ham

“At 21, though, I feel it is time to move on and play regular first-team football in the EFL, which the grounding I have received at the Academy of Football has put me in position to do.

“To have played first-team football in front of 50,000 fans at London Stadium and captained the Club through the age-groups are achievements I am immensely proud of.”

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About Dave Langton

A journalist with 10 years' experience of working on National newspapers, now chief reporter covering the club that I've loved since I was a boy. Upton Park remains the greatest football stadium ever built.

10 comments on “Youngster leaves

  1. A shame – he’s always looked very composed and extremely quick when he has played. I thought it might have been worth hanging on for one more season with Ogbonna and Dawson approaching their dotage but perhaps they’ve got more faith in Baptiste. I hope he does very well at Sunderland and wouldn’t be surprised to see him in the Premier league at some point – although I suspect not with Sunderland!!!!

  2. I am thoroughly disappointed to see him leave. Having kept a close eye on the youngsters, he was one I expected to make the grade. He is fast, strong, reads the game well, a natural left footed CB and a natural leader. I had expected him to fill in last season when we had no defenders available near the end of season but Moyes obviously doesn’t rate him. Wish him all the best and I genuinely do believe we will see Aji in the Premier League in the not too distant future

  3. This is a pity, not only because he had been with West Ham for 14 of his 21 years but also as he was one of the Academy players who was seemingly on the fringes of the first team squad. With West Ham looking to be a club challenging for the Champions League on a consistent basis and paying transfer fees of £30m plus for new players it is going to become harder for our youngsters to make the grade at this level. There is no denying that the gap from Under 23 football to the top 6 of the Premiership is huge. However, there are some, such as Ashby, Longelo and Okoflex, who might be able to bridge it and the worry for many West Ham fans is that under Moyes they may never get the chance. It is a challenge for the management team to develop Academy players and integrate them successfully into the first team squad. Let us hope that this can be done with one or two over the coming seasons, as it is dispiriting to see our Academy being just a conveyor belt of talent for other clubs and without the fans ever seeing them play a meaningful game in the first team.

    • Very good post Selsdon and I agree entirely. Such a big disappointment to see top young players like Aji heading for the door, but who can blame them? They are getting no real integration, just bench warming, never been brought on even for a few minutes, and this has been the :policy’ for two years now. Ashby, Chester’s, Longelo, Okoflex, Baptiste – will we keep any of them? Really disappointed at this.

  4. Like everyone else, I was a little surprised to hear this news because I have kept an eye on Aji and his progress over the years and out of all of our products, he was the one that I had expected would make the grade as he has everything that you would want in a young centre half. I did feel that there was something wrong, as he seemed a little thoughtful and preoccupied in the pre-season warm-up video clips and before his pre-season-friendly appearance.
    After this news, I tried to look at it from a neutral or the manager’s perspective, which team could he walk into, in the top six (or seven) in the Premier League?
    I don’t think that it is because Moyes doesn’t rate him because it is clear that Aji could have stayed, but as a young 21-year-old centre-half, he needs to be playing first-team football regularly to achieve his full potential.
    I hope that there is a massive clause or buyback inserted in the deal because I believe that he will make the grade and some.

  5. Big big mistake.
    Did Moyes not the chase back and determination to get something on the ball against Ipswich. Moyes doesn’t have one player in the back four that could do that.
    Yet another sign of Moyes having no trust in the youngsters.
    Keep your f****** hands off Ashby. He should be our first choice right back by season end

  6. This is a MASSIVE disappointment. Obviously one has to trust the manager but Aji had so many positive write-ups, both from pre-season matches and U23’s, that i’m surprised he wasn’t loaned for the season rather than sold. What with Dawson and Ogbonna coming to the end of their careers i thought he was the next in line to step up.

    I hate to give credence to those calling Moyes a manager who doesn’t believe in promotion of the youth into the first team but this does scream of that, sadly.

  7. The loss of young players at top Premier league clubs seems to be an increasing trend so it’s not just us. I think when David Moyes came he at least got the under 23s training at same location as first team squad.
    So his reputation of ignoring young talent I feel is undeserved. It just shows how tough it is at the top which after all is where we now want to stay!

  8. Budgie.
    Ignoring the talent , 2nd in the PL2 was a big mistake. Cost us several games and will do again.
    With Ogbonna still not 100% ready. That leaves us with Dawson and Diop. Both have been subject to question marks about if they will stay. We’ll be in the same situation as in January putting square pegs in round holes, crazy.
    Ogbonna will not be the same, Dawson has an old injury from last year and is again injured. There’s no way he will be as effective as last year. We got a diamond out a bit of broken glass. He made a few mistakes that cost us towards the end of the season, Chelsea for example. An injury or cat involved digressions will leave us vulnerable again. None of the other center backs are ready. Baptiste maybe another Oxford. A couple of attitude problems have arisen

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