Jarrod Bowen is ‘exactly what West Ham is all about’, according to former Claret and Blue hero Dean Ashton.
Ashton was a promising forward who had scored freely in the Championship when he arrived at West Ham United during the January transfer window, signing from Norwich City for a then-club record fee in 2006 before going on to fire the Irons to the FA Cup final.
At 23, Bowen is a year older than Ashton was when he joined the Hammers, but the former Hull City winger followed a similarly goal-filled career path before moving to east London.
The one-time England international expects Bowen to build on his promising start, keep improving and make a big and sustained impact for West Ham.
For me, he’s probably my favourite West Ham signing for as long as I can remember
“For me, he’s probably my favourite West Ham signing for as long as I can remember, to be honest,” Ashton enthused. “I know what it’s like to have been there and the hunger he has shown over the last two or three seasons for Hull, who were not exactly a team challenging for the title, and to score the amount of goals he did from a wide area, with the ability he’s got, it was obvious to me that he could do it in the Premier League.
“I’m glad West Ham took a chance on him, and I think there is plenty more development in him as well. He can make a difference and he’s done that in the games he has played so far.”
Alongside fellow January signing Tomas Soucek, England midfielder Declan Rice, Spanish attacker Pablo Fornals, French centre-back Issa Diop and teenage full-back Jeremy Ngakia, Bowen is one of a host of players aged under 25 who manager David Moyes hopes will form the nucleus of his squad in the future.
And while Ashton believes a blend of youth and experience is vital for any team’s success, he endorses the Scot’s ambition of putting together a young and hungry group, with Bowen setting an example to his teammates with the way he plays.
“There is definitely a place for experienced players, but when you’re looking to build a side, you want players who are young and can fit into the style of play you want, and I think Jarrod does that,” said the former striker.
“If you watch him play, he’s got great ability, he makes clever runs and he can finish, but also he’s a grafter. He might lose the ball a few times but, I tell you what, he will turn around and chase it and battle and scrap and that’s exactly what West Ham is all about and every player should have those attributes.”