I won’t comment on every rumour we see online: to do so would only fuel some rather dodgy accounts. However, when an account with 67,000 followers and a podcast say we’re interested in a player, then I take the time to comment.
The ‘Ex-West Ham Employee’ might have the ring of an ex-agent, but it is usually an account that peddles decent information and rumours. Therefore, it is worth having a look at the two players we’re linked with here.
The first is Joe Powell. The 21-year-old is said to be a target for us this winter as his contract with the Hammers is set to expire in the summer. Whether we’d be looking at a loan deal or a permanent switch is debatable, but the same source suggested Bristol Rovers want him on a two-year deal.
He’s a 21-year-old central midfielder which, if the rumours are accurate, possibly says as much about the future of one our current loan players as it does Powell. When discussing this with a fan a little earlier I was told signing Powell would be ‘underwhelming’. I feel it would be the opposite. He’s exactly the sort of player MA wants; fresh, energetic and with the potential to increase significantly in value (if we were to get him permanently). If you thought we’d be signing Brett Pitman or Eoin Doyle this transfer window, you’re mistaken.
Probably. Those might be famous last words.
“Powell has shown his professionalism this season after returning from his loan spell at Northampton. After failing to leave on loan before the end of the summer window, Powell has knuckled down and worked hard for the academy.
“He sets the standard for the other up-and-coming academy players with his training and his performances for the U23 team. The left-footed midfielder is clearly a gifted footballer and he has shown this on several occasions for the U23s.
“With three goals and a number of assists so far this season, the 20-year-old is shining at youth level. He operates in a central role but he is also comfortable on the left or even as a full-back. Dimitri Halajko loves having Powell in his side because he offers talent, a hardworking ethic and versatility.”
Powell made his first team debut in an 8–0 victory in the EFL Cup against Macclesfield Town in September 2018, on the same night as another player the account links us with: Conor Coventry. The 19-year-old has been in the news this week as it was revealed he’d been the subject of attention from Celtic, who launched a failed transfer bid before he penned a new deal with the Hammers. It was noted when he penned his new deal that he was likely to be loaned out for the remainder of the season.
Here’s a link that might make this more believable (or more likely to have been made up): he’s an Eire Under 21 International. Just like Zack Elbouzedi and just like another player we’re being linked with, Adam Idah. Coventry is, however, also a central midfielder which does raise the question of how accurate these links are. Surely, with Michael O’Connor, Ellis Chapman and Joe Morrell, we wouldn’t sign two more midfielders, would we?
I suppose if the worst were to happen and Morrell was to be recalled, then a move for Coventry would make sense. Powell, whilst described as a midfielder, is very much an attacking central player who can operate as a ten. If (and this is pure speculation) Southampton were to recall Jake Hesketh, then I could see this duo coming in. What it would do is give us a nucleus of a side that know each other; two from West Ham and then Coventry and Elbouzedi from Eire.
There is no shortage of rumours and the like floating around, but few seem viable. However, I could see this double swoop being plausible if we were to lose existing loan players. Whether Powell could be permanent is another thing entirely but what I would say is this; getting in with West Ham is not a bad thing. Last season Josh Cullen was loaned to Charlton and they went up, with Marcus Browne impressing hugely during his time at Oxford. They produce talented footballers who like to play a sharp passing game, just like MA and they’re a great club to be dealing with if indeed we are.