West Ham United are reportedly set to compete with Everton for Preston North End wonderkid Lewis Leigh.
According to Football Insider, West Ham United have joined Premier League rivals Everton in the pursuit of Preston North End wonderkid Lewis Leigh.
The 17-year-old is yet to feature for the Lancashire based outfit at the senior level. However, his performances at the youth level have not gone unnoticed. The youngster penned professional terms with Preston last year, and his current deal at the Deepdale Stadium runs until 2024. A former prospect at the Liverpool academy, he has thrived since being released by the Reds at the age of 14.
The Hammers are the latest team to join the fray and are suitably impressed with what they have seen. Leigh is highly regarded at Preston and is believed to be a player capable of making it as a Premier League footballer.
A boyhood Preston fan, Leigh will do well to stay at Preston for the time being and fine-tune his game. The Championship side also has a clear plan to develop his talents, and it remains to be seen if they will get a chance to use it. Leigh is training with the first team and was on the bench in a Championship clash last season. As long as he keeps it up, it will be only a matter of time before he makes his senior bow.
West Ham many have one advantage over Everton when it comes to dealing with Preston. Hammers boss David Moyes started his managerial career at the Deepdale outfit and spent four years in the hot seat. He guided the Lilywhites from Division Two to Division One and improved their fortunes. His success was enough to convince Everton to hand him the manager’s seat in 2002.
Moyes has a history of making the best of his resources and getting the most out of his players. While Rafael Benitez does have his moments, he may not be best suited to develop a 17-year-old who needs more attention. Both Everton and West Ham provide the youngster with interesting projects. While they could certainly offer Leigh better facilities, too many talents have faltered by making the big move too early.
West Ham will do well to move to land the player and then loan him back to Preston for a year or two. It will help continue his development and keep him away from the limelight until he is ready.
For now, it remains to be seen what the current season holds for Leigh. He will be well advised to focus on breaking into the Preston first team for now. As long as he continues to impress, better opportunities will certainly arrive at the table.