West Ham United’s academy seems to have produced a new top talent every other year, with Declan Rice the current crowning jewel of those to be promoted.
The central midfielder has announced himself as not only a mainstay in David Moyes’ team but in the England side too, with his combative displays belying his incredible technical proficiency.
There are few who can hold down the engine room with as much poise as the 24-year-old, as he breaks up play and then utilises his quality to set his teammates on the counter.
However, rumours have persisted for some time now linking him with a move from east London, and especially following this relegation-threatened campaign a summer exit seems all the more likely.
Therefore, even if they do receive the British transfer record that his Scottish manager demands, they could once again look to the academy for his readymade replacement.
Who can replace Declan Rice at the London Stadium?
That man is Freddie Potts, who has been shining for the U23s for some time now. His composed and classy midfield performances even earned him his senior debut last season, which he built upon in a slightly more elongated cameo in this campaign’s Europa Conference League.
Can Potts emulate Rice?
He is widely regarded as the next big thing at the club, with journalist Roshane Thomas even lauding him in a Tweet where he earmarks him as the club’s Mark Noble successor.
“The long-term replacement for Noble is a young player in the academy called Freddie Potts. [He’s the] best prospect at the club,” he said.
The 19-year-old, who is the son of former Hammers great Steve Potts, boasts a bright future in which he even suggested himself that he hopes to emulate Rice. Upon signing his new contract, he claimed:
“Declan Rice has been my role model since he’s pushed through into the first team.
“The way he’s gone through the Academy to become the player he has now – as West Ham captain and to play in the Euros at the moment with England – that really inspires me to try to follow his journey.”
How is Potts performing for the U23s?
Potts has starred this season yet again for the youngsters, where he has featured 14 times in the Premier League 2 whilst notching two assists.
However, in the Football League Trophy is where he has truly shone, as he boasts a 7.50 average rating whilst clashing with senior sides.
His work rate and creativity are outlined perfectly in these games however, where he averages 4.5 tackles and three interceptions per game, and pairs this with one key pass per 90 too, via Sofascore.
For comparison, this season Rice records 2.3 tackles, 1.7 interceptions and 1.2 key passes per game, also via Sofascore.
The two do show striking similarities, and should their club captain leave they can be safe in the knowledge that someone of Potts’ quality is waiting patiently in the wings.