Tuesday 16 Mar
Updated Tuesday 16 Mar 13:00

Promising defender Ajibola Alese signs new West Ham United contract


West Ham United is delighted to announce that Ajibola Alese has signed a new contract with the Club until the summer of 2023.

The initial two-and-a-half-year deal also includes the option of an additional season for the promising defender, who first joined the Club aged just seven.

Alese is currently developing on loan at League Two side Cambridge United, where he is gaining valuable Football League experience against senior professionals.

On completing the deal, the 20-year-old told West Ham TV: “I’ve been here since the age of seven, so to come through and sign a new contract is an amazing feeling.

“It’s a dream of mine to play for West Ham, so to be offered a new contract just shows that I’m going in the right direction.

“There are so many memories that I have here already. There are so many coaches who have given me little pieces of advice here and there that have helped me towards where I am today.

“I’d also like to thank my family, of course; God; and my friends, who have always supported me.

“West Ham means everything. It’s part of my family – I can’t describe it. West Ham is part of my blood now.”

Aji Alese signs his new contract

An East London local, Alese made his West Ham U18s debut whilst still a schoolboy before signing a full-time scholarship at the Academy of Football in 2017.

After penning his first professional contract in July 2018, Alese won the Dylan Tombides Award the following season, subsequently spending last season on loan at Accrington Stanley, where he impressed over 15 appearances in all competitions.

On the international stage, Alese has also captained England’s U16s, helped the Young Lions reach the semi-finals of the 2018 UEFA European U17 Championship on home soil and – last season – made his bow at U20s level.

Earlier this season, Alese made a memorable West Ham United debut against Hull City in the Carabao Cup, helping his team to a 5-1 win at London Stadium with a solid display encompassing two completed tackles, two clearances and three interceptions.

I’m looking forward to working more often with Aji in the future. He’s a local boy from east London, which is such a big thing for this Club and our fans, and I can see how much it means to him to be here

Kevin Nolan

First-Team Coach Kevin Nolan, who has worked closely with Alese on the defender’s development, added: “It’s fantastic that Aji has become the latest young player to commit his future to the Club. He is one of a talented group we hope will go on to break through and establish himself in the first team in the future.

“He is currently out on loan and we are hoping he is going to get some more minutes before the end of the season, because that is the next step in his progression as a young player, to learn what is required to play senior football on a regular basis.

“We did a lot of work with Aji on the training field last year when he came back from his loan spell at Accrington. He’s a great lad, with a very good attitude towards his development, and he took a lot on board, in terms of what we expect from him and the targets he needs to set himself.

“I’m looking forward to working more often with Aji in the future. He’s a local boy from east London, which is such a big thing for this Club and our fans, and I can see how much it means to him to be here. 

“He has a lot of hard work in front of him, and a long way to go, but I’m sure he will give it 110 percent to get to where he wants to be.”

Aji Alese with Academy Manager Ricky Martin
Aji Alese with Academy Manager Ricky Martin

A boyhood fan of the Club, Alese’s lifelong connection with West Ham means the starlet is keen to do everything he can to harness his potential and, one day, wear Claret and Blue regularly at first-team level.

“When I was younger, I used to be a ballboy at matches,” he smiled. “I’d look up into the stands and I’d have mates who were Season Ticket Holders. 

“Coming from east London, everyone supports West Ham, so it’s an amazing achievement to play for them.

“You just have to look around at the players who have come through the Academy recently, and the players that have come through even before that – it shows that there’s a pathway to get through to the first team. There are opportunities everywhere.

“The next step this season is for me to play as many games for Cambridge as possible and continue to develop as a player and a person, on and off the pitch. 

“Next season, I’d like to come back, continue to become a better player, continue improving and, hopefully, impress.”

West Ham United would like to congratulate Ajibola on signing his new contract, and wish him well for his future career in Claret and Blue.