Reece Burke: Center-Back, 20 years old — Wigan (Championship)
Burke has been praised as a fantastic leader and a highly-skilled defender, but he hasn’t broken much into Wigan Athletic’s side this season, starting just six times. Part of this is due to injury, but as Burke has been there since late August 2016, we would have expected him to see more action. He has scored one goal this season for Wigan. It was just a tap in, but it shows that this man has got some serious pace.
Burke has showed that he can score, too, with this strong finish back in November.
Burke not breaking into the Wigan side comes as a surprise after his scorching season playing for Bradford City AFC in 2015/16, where he cleaned up at the Bantams’ end of the year awards. Burke actually won their Player of the Year award, after starting 34 of 46 matches and scoring two goals.
Presented by Phil Parkinson, The Telegraph & Argus Player of the Year award goes to Reece Burke. What a night for that man! #BCAFC— Bradford City AFC (@officialbantams) April 26, 2016
Burke is a hard-working player, and, barring any setbacks, could see himself in the West Ham first team as soon as next year.
Joshua Cullen: Midfielder, 20 years old — Bradford City (League One)
The Hammers seem to have a pretty good streak in loaning players to Bradford City. Last season, Cullen played for the U21s, but was still involved every now and then with the first team in the Premier League, coming on as a substitute in the now infamous 3-0 win at Anfield, and he captained the U21s for a spell. Cullen was an unused sub for the first team a number of times during December of 2015, and then was loaned to League One side Bradford City in January.
Almost instantly, Cullen became an important player for the Bantams, and a fan favorite, playing in all but two of their remaining league matches. He was part of the side that reached the League One playoffs, but could not help Bradford City beat Millwall to reach Wembley.
He’s even got his own chant.
This season, Josh has once again been a huge part of Bradford City’s push toward promotion, starting or featuring in 24 of their games, and also scoring one goal. It’s pretty clear that Cullen is well-loved wherever he goes. Very much looking forward to him donning the claret and blue kit in a few years.
Team of the Day: The FLP's selection of top performers from Saturday's League One action... pic.twitter.com/JNmfojuxpc— FootballLeaguePaper (@TheLeaguePaper) January 31, 2017
Cullen also made an appearance in the League One Team of the Day yesterday.
Reece Oxford: Defender, 18 years old — Reading (Championship)
Reece Oxford started out the 2015/16 season in an incredible way, becoming the youngest player to ever start a game for West Ham in the top flight, and then effectively playing against the world-class Mesut Özil. I believe the popular phrase attached to Oxford’s play in that game was that he had “pocketed” Özil, which is no small task.
This video of Oxford’s debut against Arsenal shows just what he is capable of, even against the big names.
Oxford hasn’t done much for the Hammers PL2 team this season as he’s been fighting an ankle injury, but it looks as if Reading are willing to take him on and give him the first team football that he deserves. Reading has one of the best center-backs of the last 20 years managing their team, Jaap Stam, and every game matters as Reading is pushing for promotion to the Premier League. This will be an incredibly beneficial situation for Oxford. We look forward to hearing about his progress this season.
Toni Martinez: Striker, 19 years old — Oxford United (League One)
Antonio “Toni” Martinez was signed by the Hammers in late June 2016, and he has absolutely set the world on fire this season to the tune of 10 goals in 11 games, three of those goals coming most recently on a 19 December match against the Wolves. Toni has done so well that some fans were even calling for the 19-year-old to be moved up to the first team. He did sit on the bench for a game or two, but Slaven Bilic, for whatever reason, has been reluctant to give him, or any other youngster, first team football. Strikers run off of confidence, though, and this kid has got quite a bit of it at the moment.
They need help in front of goal, perhaps West Ham should think about calling Toni Martinez up! What.A.Strike pic.twitter.com/B4ZKOUB8SB— Marathonbet (@marathonbet) August 31, 2016
Check this wonder strike from Toni Martinez.
Toni has just been shipped out to Oxford United in the January transfer window, and he has already made quite the impact for Oxford United. Toni came on in the 70’ and scored a header in the 87’ in a 3-0 drubbing of Newcastle United in the FA Cup. Safe to say this kid is something special.
Martin Samuelsen: Midfielder, 19 years old — Peterborough United (League One)
Referred to cheekily as the Norwegian Messi, it’s pretty clear that there is a lot of potential for Martin Samuelsen.
West Ham youngster Martin Samuelsen scored his first International goal for Norway tonight. pic.twitter.com/28pWt0jqvD— WestHamFCLive (@WestHamFCLive) October 11, 2016
Samuelsen pokes one home for his national team, Norway.
In 2015/16, Samuelsen was loaned to League One side Peterborough United and made seventeen appearances, averaging about 46 minutes a match and scoring just one goal.
If you’re going to score just one goal a season, it should look like this.
Samuelsen started the 2016/17 season on loan for Championship side Blackburn Rovers, but after fighting for playing time and not really getting any, West Ham recalled him and sent him back to the League One side Peterborough in early January. Samuelsen has already appeared in three matches for Peterborough since the loan switch, once again averaging about 46 minutes a match.
Seriously, they don’t call this kid Norwegian Messi for nothing.
Marcus Browne: Striker, 19 years old — Wigan Athletic (Championship)
Marcus Browne, barring Toni Martinez or Domingos Quina, is probably West Ham’s most highly touted Dev Squad player, so it only made sense that they would ship him out on loan to Wigan Athletic so that he could get some experience with first team football before he inevitably hits the first team for West Ham.
Toni and Marcus work pretty well together. That would be a pretty nice tandem in the future.
Browne saw some action in Manchester United’s 4-0 rout of Wigan in the FA Cup this weekend, coming on in the 76’ and nearly scoring a goal with his first touch on the ball.
Luka Belic: Striker, 20 years old — Motherwell (SPFL)
Luka had all the makings of being an incredible bright spot for the Hammers in the future. The youth who started his career as the youngest player to feature in the Serbian top flight in 2012 at age 16 hasn’t shown the same flash that we all thought he had, though.
Belic has yet to break into the first team and make an appearance for the middle-of-the-road Scottish Professional Football League team, Motherwell, who he was loaned to. Things really aren’t looking good for Luka right now.
George Dobson: Midfielder, 19 years old — Walsall FC (League One)
George Dobson was brought to West Ham from Arsenal in the summer of 2015. While he’s not necessarily a “world class” signing, we think that Georgie can become quite the player. He’s had a slow start to his career, not playing in any games in 2015/16, but some have said that Dobson’s play is reminiscent of Tottenham Hotspur midfielder, Eric Dier. We’re not incredibly fond of Tottenham ‘round these parts, but we can recognize when a good player is a good player, and Eric Dier is certainly that.
Dobson has had eight appearances for Walsall so far this season, averaging 59 minutes, and he’s scored one goal as well.
And that goal was a bullet. Check Dobson’s goal, starting at the 1:47 mark.
Sam Ford: Striker, 18 years old — Bishop’s Stortford (National League South)
Ford started as a youngster in Ipswich Town's academy and joined the Hammers in March 2016. He scored his first goal in claret and blue just twelve minutes into his debut against Wolverhampton Wanderers. He was also part of the Dev Squad which reached the final and lifted the 2016 U21 Premier League Cup.
Sam Ford is a youngster who is working his way up in West Ham’s Dev Squad, which is exactly why he’s been loaned to National League South side, Bishop’s Stortford. Ford was just loaned on the 12th of January, but he has already played in three matches, averaging 62 minutes a match. No goals have been scored, though... yet.
Stephen Hendrie: Left-Back, 22 years old — Blackburn Rovers (Championship)
Hendrie hasn’t played much since 2014/15 when he started 26 matches for Hamilton Academy in the Scottish Premiership. Since then, he’s played in nine total matches for his loaned teams Southend United (League One), and now currently Blackburn Rovers (Championship), starting seven of those. Hendrie has shown signs of potential, but he hasn’t been given many chances at cracking into the starting lineup anywhere he’s been since the Scottish Premiership days. This season, Hendrie has only totaled 242 minutes playing for the Rovers, appearing in four matches and only starting two of those. It doesn’t seem likely that he’ll be breaking into the first team much more either, as Blackburn seem likely to terminate his loan.
Blackburn Rovers pair Jack Byrne and Stephen Hendrie will have their loans cut short when the January window opens. pic.twitter.com/XqQGFxSAQK— Transfer Centre Live (@TransferCentreL) December 30, 2016
Things aren’t quite looking up for Hendrie.
Jaanai Gordon: Striker, 21 years old — Newport County (League Two)
Jaanai (no, that’s not a typo) Gordon looked like something special when he was playing for National League South side, Chelmsford City, in 2014/15, scoring five goals in ten games. Since then, though, Gordon hasn’t done much. He scored once in five appearances for Nuneaton Town in 2014/15 after he moved from Chelmsford City midway through his loan, and just once in 2016 for Sligo Rovers, an Irish Premier Division side, in twelve appearances.
Not that it’s hard to score a goal when the keeper completely shanks the ball, but silver linings and all that.
This season Gordon has only played 55 minutes for his new side, Newport County, but he went on loan right at the beginning of January, so things could be looking up for the 21-year-old.
Sam Howes: Goalkeeper, 19 years old — Hampton & Richmond (National League South)
Sam Howes is an incredible keeper with a lot of potential. Howes came from Crystal Palace and started in the West Ham academy at the U10 level, so he’s quite the homegrown product. He has just been shipped out to Hampton & Richmond in the National League South, but he has already made two starts for the Beavers, giving up just one goal in each game. Howes has also played for England youth teams extensively, and he looks to be the kind of quality keeper West Ham could use in the future when old boy Darren Randolph is finished at the club.
Howe, the England U18 keeper, has flitted between the U18s and U21s, making a total of 32 starts. His crowning accomplishment came in a penalty shootout against arch rivals Millwall in the U21 Premier League Cup. It was a tough game, but Howes made several impressive saves in extra time before saving the would-be deciding spot kick after the shootout had reached sudden death.
Kyle Knoyle: Full-back, 20 years old — Wigan Athletic (Championship)
Kyle Knoyle is the quintessential modern day right-back. He has massive amounts of pace, he’s good on the ball, and he forges up the right flank whenever possible.
In 2014/15, the England U18 international had another good showing for the Hammers. Knoyle started the season as first choice Dev Squad right-back before an injury curtailed his game time, but thankfully he recovered well and was back to his best, shooting up and down the right side for both the U18s and U21s. At the end of that season, he signed a contract that would keep him in east London for at least two more years. Knoyle made 10 appearances for the West Ham U18s, and 7 appearances for the U21s.
In 2015/16 the right-back played a part in the West Ham’s Europa League qualifiers. He started the season in the U21s after breaking into the side the previous season, captaining them for the first time against Arsenal. Knoyle then found himself on the first team bench the following day as Bilic's men beat Liverpool at Anfield.
The following game, Knoyle got a goal against Blackburn and set up goals against Stoke City and Wolves in consecutive matches in September and October.
In January of 2016, Knoyle joined Scottish Premiership side Dundee United on loan. He started on the bench, but broke into the starting XI in April and started all of the club's final eight league matches, helping the side reach the semi-finals of the Scottish Cup before losing to Hibernian on penalties.
After his showing at Dundee United, Knoyle was shipped out on loan to Wigan this January where he’s only made one bench appearance so far.
Josh Pask: Defender, 19 years old — Gillingham (League One)
Josh Pask joined the West Ham Academy at the age of eight. He began his career as a striker as a schoolboy, but is now a centre-back who can also play as a holding midfielder.
The defender made nine U18 appearances in 2013/14 at the age of 15, making his debut at Norwich City on 18 January 2014. Pask made his Dev Squad debut as a substitute at home to Liverpool on 12 September 2014, and he started the Premier League International Cup fixture with Spanish side Bilbao Athletic at the Boleyn Ground on 15 October 2014.
In 2014/15, the central-defender more than proved his worth as one of the best young central defenders at the club. His confidence and physical stature continued to grow throughout the season culminating in a phenomenal performance away at Chelsea to keep a clean sheet in a hard-fought 1-0 win.
Although Pask is a defender, he showed that he can score too, using his height to head one home in a 4-0 win against Reading. He made twelve U18 appearances scoring three goals, and eight U21 appearances as well.
In the legendary 2015/16 season, Pask was on the bench against Astra in the Hammers' early season away Europa League tie, then joined League Two outfit Dagenham and Redbridge on loan in October. He made his debut against Hartlepool United on 17 October in a 1-0 defeat, and made four further appearances for the Daggers during that season. He made a total of thirteen appearances in 2015/16: seven for the U18s; one for the U21s, and five for Dagenham and Redbridge.
After impressing for the U23s in preseason, Pask joined Gillingham on loan at the start of the 2016/17 season.
Alex Pike: Defender, 19 years old — Cheltenham Town (League Two)
Pike joined the West Ham Academy as an U11 midfielder before being converted to a right-back at a young age. The defender made his U18 Premier League debut while still an U16 schoolboy at home to Tottenham Hotspur on 12 January, 2013
Pike featured 13 times for the U18s in the league in 2013/14, after missing the opening half of the season with a knee injury.
The talented defender had a fantastic season for both the U18s and U21s. A popular figure among fellow teammates, his attack-mindedness paid dividends as he produced two assists and coolly slotted home a penalty against Fulham.
In a busy season, Pike also made 13 appearances for the Dev Squad before capping off a breakthrough season by signing a two-year professional contract.
The English defender made a strong start to the U18 Premier League season in 2014/15, starting five of the squad's opening eight match.
In 2015/16, Pike made a substitute appearance against Astra in the Europa League in early August, and broke into the U21 squad for the season in October. The young defender captained the U21s against Swansea City on 30 November, and he scored in the 1-1 home draw against Arsenal's U21s.
The youngster played a key role as Terry Westley's men reached the U21 Premier League Cup final again Hull City as well.
In 2016/17, Pike has established himself as one of the U23s’ key defensive players and has showed his versatility by playing at right-back and centre-back. The defender has had heaps of praise from Terry Westley as well, which is always a good sign.
On January 12th, Pike joined League Two side Cheltenham Town on loan until the end of the season.
Last But Not Least
Enner Valencia: Striker, 27 years old — Everton (Premier League)
The oft-forgotten loanee that West Ham has is Enner Valencia. While Valencia is technically a West Ham loanee, he’s 27 years old, so this one is less about the future of the club, and more about trying to offload someone who hasn’t done so well for the Hammers.
Valencia wasn’t horrible for West Ham when he first started out, showing pace and a good ability to push the ball forward, but he ultimately could not put the ball in the stinking net. He played for West Ham from 2014-2016, and he made three appearances for the Hammers in the beginning of the 2016/17 season against Chelsea, AFC Bournemouth, and Manchester City, making little to no impact, before he was sent out on loan to Everton.
Since Valencia’s loan switch, he’s made eight appearances for the Toffees, scoring one goal out of all of those, and averaging about 43 minutes a match. Other than Valencia’s one goal for Everton in 2017, the only other goals he scored were for his national team, Ecuador, in World Cup qualifiers in October and November 2016, netting three total. This could either mean that Valencia hasn’t been used well by any team that he’s gone to, or it could mean that he just does his best under the big lights. Either way, he hasn’t been great for West Ham, which explains why the 27-year-old was sent out on loan, and, honestly, we would be surprised if he ever dons the claret and blue kit again.