Sam Bryam was likened to a young Gareth Bale by Leeds United manager Neil Redfearn back in 2013, which serves as a reminder of just how highly-rated he was as a young player.

When he joined West Ham in January 2016, it was believed that Slaven Bilic had procured one of the hottest prospects in English football, and someone who was expected to go on and represent his country at senior level.

Two and a half years later, Byram looks set to drop back into the Championship, joining Nottingham Forest’s ambitious plan to finally return to the top flight. So where did it all go wrong for him at West Ham?

LONDON, ENGLAND – JANUARY 20: (EXCLUSIVE COVERAGE) Sam Byram signs for West Ham United at Boleyn Ground on January 20, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by Arfa Griffiths/West Ham United via Getty Images)

Arriving with 143 games for boyhood club Leeds behind him, Byram certainly had the experience to go with the talent to make his Hammers career a success.

He has also had the benefit of working alongside Alvaro Arbeloa and Pablo Zabaleta, two of the most experienced and decorated right-backs in modern football, at different stages of his stint in east London, but has never been able to nail down a starting spot.

He picked up an injury early on in his West Ham career, and is not the first player to fail to recover fully from a stuttering start to impose himself at a club.

STRATFORD, ENGLAND – MAY 05: Slaven Bilic of West Ham United gives instructions to Sam Byram (R) during the Premier League match between West Ham United and Tottenham Hotspur at London Stadium on May 5, 2017 in Stratford, England. (Photo by Arfa Griffiths/West Ham United via Getty Images)

It seemed as if Bilic never really trusted Byram defensively, sometimes preferring Cheikhou Kouyate out of position at right-back due to his pace and power, rather than giving the Englishman an opportunity to establish himself in the role.

When David Moyes came in, Byram was still recovering from an injury and even admitted that the Scot’s appointment came at a frustrating time for him personally, as he was unable to prove what he could do.

In March this year, he suffered an injury that would keep him out for the rest of the season and returned this pre-season to find that Ryan Fredericks had arrived in his position, in one of the best value transfers of the summer.

BAD RAGAZ, SWITZERLAND – JULY 03: West Ham Manager Manuel Pellegrini speaks to Pablo Zabaleta during a training session on the West Ham Pre-Season Tour to Switzerland on July 3, 2018 in Bad Ragaz, Switzerland. (Photo by West Ham United FC/West Ham United via Getty Images)

With Zabaleta a trusted figure for Pellegrini after the pair’s time together at Manchester City, that was always going to make Byram third-choice, at best, and regular football is best for him at this stage of his career.


The main surprise is that the Hammers reportedly want to sell Byram to Forest, with Aitor Karanka offering a loan deal.

A season of regular football to get his confidence and fitness back up, before coming in to battle with Fredericks as Zabaleta’s legs grow another year wearier looks the perfect compromise.

However, it is an indication of how far Byram’s stock has fallen that West Ham seemingly want to cash in, having given up on his hopes on becoming a first-team option.

The talent is certainly there and time is on his side, but can Byram rediscover the form that made him so hotly-tipped as a youngster? That’s the big test for the right-back now.