West Ham United favourite Carlton Cole claims the club could have a new Rio Ferdinand on its hands.
Cole co-presents excellent new West Ham YouTube Show Inside Irons alongside Chris Scull.
And speaking in episode three ahead of the Burnley game, Cole revealed 16-year-old academy hot prospect Jamal Baptiste has been training with West Ham’s first team.
Cole, who is involved with the academy’s under 18s side, was asked who he thought would be the next talent to graduate from the famous West Ham production line to the first team.
Cole highlights Baptiste as potential new Rio
And he picked out Baptiste, who he believes could be the next Rio Ferdinand for West Ham.
That is some billing given Ferdinand’s stature at West Ham and as one of the greats of the game.
West Ham fans are currently voting for the two centre backs they believe should make the club’s best ever team.
And it is Rio and Alvin Martin in the bidding for a place alongside Bobby Moore.
“There’s loads to be looking forward to at the moment, there’s a lot of young English prospects coming through” Cole said on Inside Irons Episode Three.
‘I’m a massive fan, he’s a massive prospect’
“Especially Jamal Baptiste that I’m a massive fan of. Well he’s training with the first team at the moment (which tells you how highly rated he is) so I think he’s definitely a massive prospect.
“He’s going to be the next Anton Ferdinand hopefully or the next Rio. So hopefully we can these boys on the right track and help them transition into being a professional footballer full-time.”
Baptiste does not turn 17 until November but is already an England Under 18 international. When he was 15 Baptiste became the second-youngest West Ham U23s player in history, behind only fellow U18s defender Jayden Fevrier.
But West Ham boss David Moyes clearly likes what he has seen if he has called him into first team training.
The club’s official site makes it clear Baptiste is highly rated at West Ham.
‘Outstanding Baptiste is tall, strong and comfortable in possession’
“A versatile defender, Jamal Baptiste broke into the U18 squad on a regular basis at the start of the 2018/19 season while still a schoolboy,” whufc.com states.
“Tall, strong and comfortable in possession, Baptiste made his full debut in an U18 Premier League South win at Norwich City on 11 August 2018. By the season’s end he had started 14 times.
“The youngster’s outstanding progress continued in the 2019/20 season as he made his debut for the U23s in a 1-0 Premier League International Cup win over Valencia ‘B’ on 11 September 2019, playing the full 90 minutes in a youthful-looking defence.
“Baptiste cites the likes of Virgil van Dijk and former Academy mentor Matt Upson as amongst the players he bases his game on.”