EXCLUSIVE By Wayne Veysey
West Ham face a battle to hang on to rising star Jamal Baptiste amid growing interest from the Premier League big guns, Football Insider understands.
The centre-back, 15, has been the subject of scouting missions from Manchester United as they assess a player who is regarded as one of the best in his age group in the country.
A West Ham source has told Football Insider that United have dispatched scouts to watch Baptiste on three occasions and are lining up more transfer missions for a player they believe has star potential.
Other leading Premier League clubs are also sending their recruitment teams to trail the England Under-16 international as they step up their interest.
Baptiste became the second youngest player to play for West Ham Under-23s when he completed 90 minutes in their 1-0 win against Valencia B eight days ago.
In addition to two appearances for the Under-23s, the centre-back has also made 17 appearances for the club’s Under-18s in a clear sign of his precocity and startling maturity for his age.
Man United’s interest in Baptiste comes at a time when they are also closely monitoring a more senior product of West Ham’s fabled academy, Declan Rice.
In other West Ham news, it can be REVEALED that Pellegrini has been offered multiple free agent forwards by the club.