Former West Ham academy boss Terry Westley has made a very bold claim about a rising star he left behind.

Westley left West Ham in the summer after five hugely successful years in the role.

The ex academy chief oversaw the development of the likes of Declan Rice, Grady Diangana, Ben Johnson, Conor Coverntry and Nathan Holland.

Photo by West Ham United FC via Getty Images

Former Academy boss makes bold claim

But he knows all about the next batch coming through the system too.

And he has told fellow Hammers website Claret & Hugh that Manuel Pellegrini and West Ham fans should be excited about one in particular.

Defender Jamal Baptiste is only 15 but has been playing for West Ham’s Under 23s.

And Westley is predicting big things of the centre-back, saying he is the next Issa Diop.

Photo by Avril Husband West Ham United FC via Getty Images

‘Next Diop on his way’

“One of the finest young prospects at the club without any doubt is 15 year old Jamal Baptiste who believe me is going to be a monster player in the Issa Diop mould,” Westley told Claret & Hugh.

“I see him as exactly that – the new Issa Diop.


“He’s got everything, height, power, pace and is already, at such a young age, making a serious impact on the under 23s.

“There’s going to be a lot of clubs after him  but when he sees  players coming through into the first team that counts for a lot.”

That comparison is certain to excite Hammers fans.

Photo by Sebastian Frej MB Media Getty Images

Exciting times for Hammers fans… and the owners

With Diop just 22 and Baptiste coming up behind him, West Ham’s future looks to be in great shape.

It will also give owners David Sullivan and David Gold a degree of security.

Diop was linked with a £75million move to Manchester United in the summer (Telegraph).

With Baptiste on the rise, they can rest safe in the knowledge if they are ever forced to sell their star French defender they will be able to hold out for top dollar AND have a readymade replacement lined up.

Have something to tell us about this article?