By Matt Farr
West Ham are preparing themselves for a barrage of offers for highly-rated teenager Ajibola Alese, according to a report.
The Sun claim that Premier League giants Manchester City and Liverpool are both monitoring the 16-year-old defender, who has been impressing during his scholarship at the London stadium.
Alese, who is the current captain of the England U16 international side, is rated very highly by West Ham manager Slaven Bilic, but the youngster has yet to sign a professional deal with the club.
However, West Ham will need to tie their wonderkid down to a professional contract if they are to stand any chance of retaining his services amid the keen interest from their Premier League rivals.
Both Manchester City and Liverpool are scouting Europe for the best upcoming young talents in a bid to strengthen their squads for the future, and Alese has been identified as a prime candidate.
Alese has currently been playing for West Ham’s Under-18 side, but the Hammers are believed to have also granted him the opportunity to play for the Under-23s this term.
West Ham chief Bilic is looking to break Alese into the first-team setup in east London, and put him on a similar path to current first-team player Domingos Quina.
Quina, 17, has yet to make his Premier League debut for the club, but has been named in the matchday squad on 10 occasions this season.
Football Insider verdict
West Ham have arguably one of the best groups of upcoming youngsters across the entire Premier League, and they would be stupid to let one of them leave. Alese may still have a long way to go before he reaches the first-team setup, but the interest from Bilic, Manchester City and Liverpool suggest that he is a future star in the making. The Hammers have handed a fair number of opportunities to young players in the first-team in recent seasons, including Ashley Fletcher and Reece Oxford, and Alese will eventually get his chance if he sticks with the club. He runs the risk of getting lost in the system if he joins a big club like Liverpool or Man City, and he should remain with West Ham if he is offered a professional deal.
In other West Ham transfer news, a £32million bid has been tabled for this senior West Ham player.