West Ham United are delighted to confirm the signing of exciting Dutch prospect Anouar El Mhassani.
The 16-year-old joins the Club on a three-year deal having left last season’s Eredivisie runners-up Ajax.
The youngster, who spent eight years with the Amsterdam outfit, is a left-footed attacking midfielder who can also operate on either flank.
El Mhassani was a regular in Ajax’s youth teams last season and is looking forward to getting started in east London having put pen to paper with the Hammers.
“Of course it’s an amazing feeling,” he said. “I feel really pleased to be here. It’s a big step for me in my life as well as my football career, but I feel as though I am ready.
“After eight years at Ajax, I feel like I have seen it all and this is a new challenge, so it’s good for me.
“West Ham’s success in the Academy is something that I kept in my mind. West Ham is a good Academy, so it was a good step for me to come here and develop myself.”
Over the last year, the Hammers have seen the likes of Toni Martinez and Domingos Quina arrive from elsewhere in Europe and flourish in London, with the duo both establishing themselves as key players for the U23s in 2016/17.
I feel really pleased to be here. It’s a big step for me in my life as well as my football career, but I feel as though I am ready.
Anouar El Mhassani
And Academy Director Terry Westley believes the Club’s latest recruit can emulate the success of the pair.
He said: “He’s an exciting prospect; that’s why we brought him in. We think he’s got a lot more to come, in terms of his development.
“He’s had a great start in his football career by being at the school for Ajax for as many years as he has. We’re fortunate to get him. There was an opportunity for us to step in, which we have done.
“He’s a talented, technical player, and he’s now got to develop other the three years to the physical, tactical sides of the game. In terms of ability with the ball, he’ll be right up there.
“This boy could have gone to several other Premier League clubs. But the reputation we’re starting to get of developing players now means we can get deals like this done.
“The types of player who can go past players and make something happen are becoming harder to find, and that’s why we’ve brought him in.
“He’s got an awful lot still to do, let’s be clear, but he’s come across really well and he’s prepared to work hard. He’s got that bravery to really take people on and beat people, so he can be a game changer.”
El Mhassani, who joined Ajax as an eight-year-old, now has his sights set on impressing those who work at the Club’s Chadwell Heath Academy.
“This year, I want to settle in, show myself off to the staff, the people and those watching me and just play the game,” he continued.
“I have watched West Ham first team games in the Premier League, and they play nice football and have some great players. I just watch the whole Premier League in general.
“I think Ajax were very helpful for me to develop me into the man that I am right now, but at the end of the day, I have to do these things myself and I can’t wait to get started.”