West Ham have completed the signing of promising French midfielder Pierre Ekwah Elimby from Chelsea for an undisclosed fee.
The 19-year-old has signed on an initial three-year deal, with the option to extend for a further 12 months.
The defensive midfielder had spent two weeks on trail with the Hammers towards the end of last season; he played Under-23s’ final two Premier League 2 Division 1 matches.
Ekwah had a spell at the Clairefontaine national academy before joining Chelsea in the summer of 2018. What’s more, he spent two years in the Blues’ Under-18s. From there, he earned a promotion to the Under-23s.
“I am really looking forward to getting started here. It is a big thing,” Ekwah told West Ham’s official website.
“The Under-23s and first team work closely, and I think that young players here have got a good chance of breaking through as they have done in the past.”
West Ham academy manager Ricky Martin added: “Pierre was identified by our recruitment department as a potential new addition for the Under-23s squad.
“We had an opportunity to assess him at the end of last season and, following that, we’re really happy to offer Pierre a new opportunity at West Ham with this contract.”
Ekwah played twice against Arsenal on his trial with West Ham, scoring in the second match.
Despite being a defensive midfielder, he can also operate further back – versatility which could prove crucial if he is to enter the first team.
Indeed, Declan Rice‘s ability to play both roles has seen him succeed.
Ekwah cites ex-Chelsea man
Elsewhere in his interview with the Hammers, Ekwah revealed that attacking midfield is his favourite position.
The teenager also cited ex-Chelsea man Claude Makelele as one of his inspirations growing up.
“I like creative players, and players who break things up as well. I’m a ball player as well, so that’s the position I really enjoy playing in,” Ekwah said.
“I would say, because I’m French, Zinedine Zidane [was my idol]! He was my guy. [I also like] Kaka, Andrea Pirlo, Claude Makelele…
“I wasn’t looking at just one player, I was literally looking at every single team who had that midfielder who was the break-up player or the playmaker, I was just looking at them and taking in everything I could. I still do it when I watch football.”
West Ham have produced some exciting young talents in recent seasons; full-back Ben Johnson played 14 Premier League games last season.