David Moyes was desperate to sign £20 million Eberechi Eze last summer but West Ham United could have got him for nothing.
That’s according to Eze himself in an emotional new interview with Versus.
West Ham and Crystal Palace fans all know the well-trodden story by now.
Hammers boss Moyes wanted Eze from QPR in the summer.
But West Ham did not have the £16m – plus a further £4 in potential add-ons – to get a deal done until they had sold Grady Diangana.
Moyes wanted Eze as his first choice last summer
Moyes has since admitted Eze was his first choice and revealed why West Ham missed out on signing him (Claret and Hugh).
In the end Crystal Palace got Eze and West Ham signed Said Benrahma instead – initially on loan and then making the deal permanent for £25m in January.
The Scot remains unconvinced by Benrahma even now as the Algerian struggles to establish himself at West Ham.
Many West Ham fans were gutted to miss out on Eze. Not that it has done the team much harm as the Hammers chase a Champions League place as a reward for what promises to be their best season in 35 years.
Well what’s even more galling is that West Ham could have got the prodigious talent for nothing.
That is according to Eze himself in an in-depth interview with Versus.
The playmaker lifted the lid on the rejection he faced from a host of clubs and revealed West Ham was his first club only for the east Londoners to elect not sign him after a trial.
Palace star reveals West Ham could have got him first and for nothing
“Eventually I started playing for a club called Bruin FC. There’s a few ballers that came through that team – players like Tammy Abraham and Ovie Ejaria – and they’d always get a lot of scouts down to watch us young ballers play,” Eze told Versus.
“All the big London clubs were there trying to find the next big thing. I’m talking Arsenal, Chelsea, West Ham, Millwall, Charlton…
“West Ham was the first trial I went on and my dad would drive me to all of them, but we’d have to be selective and he’d ask me what my favourites were because we’d have to watch the petrol prices. That’s how things were back then.
“I signed for Arsenal when I was nine and even then I was gassed. I was a kid who supported Arsenal, playing for Arsenal…
“Fast-forward to 2021 and I’m counting my blessings to see where my hard work has taken me.
“Signing for Crystal Palace last summer felt right. I was coming back to South London and I was fulfilling a lifelong ambition of playing in the Premier League. Once I started playing regularly for QPR I knew the only way was up. My faith in God and my belief in myself was absolute.
“One of the proudest moments of my career was seeing my family after my first Premier League game. I was so grateful for everything they’d sacrificed to bring me here.”
Hindsight is a wonderful thing but this one will sting
Obviously hindsight is a wonderful thing. Especially in football.
Eze won’t be the first or last player to slip through the net.
And the fact he faced and overcame so much rejection may have made him the player he is today.
But the fact West Ham could have got the talented 22-year-old for nothing – possibly just by subsidising his travel across London – will sting.
Particularly in light of the fact Moyes has made no secret of his desire to sign him above anyone else just a few months ago, only to miss out to Palace.