Whether the long-term future of Ben Johnson lays at West Ham has come into focus after the full-back forced the club into activating their back-up plan, per a report.
The 22-year-old graduate of West Ham’s academy has already matched his previous seasonal-high for appearances this year. Johnson has battled hard with Vladimir Coufal for minutes at right-back. He has also deputised on the left side when Aaron Cresswell has missed time through injury.
That has equated to 20 first-team outings this year, and by all accounts, Johnson has taken his chances with both hands.
So it comes as something of a surprise to see the Athletic report Johnson has now rejected a huge new contract offer for six-and-a-half years more years with the Hammers.
If signed, Johnson would’ve committed his future to the club until 2028. However, the proposal has been rebuffed, leading to West Ham activating their Plan B.
(Via the Transfer Tavern), that comes in the form of a two-year extension that has now tied him down until 2024. Johnson had been due to become a free agent when the current campaign ends.
Ben Johnson snub will alert the vultures
The exact reasons why Johnson has rebuffed West Ham’s lengthy offer are unstated in the piece. However, it’s important to note the Athletic add Johnson remains ‘happy’ at West Ham, and his contract situation could be re-addressed this time next year.
Regardless, it will come as a blow to David Moyes with the versatile full-back an increasingly influential presence within his squad.
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What’s more, Johnson’s decision to snub the offer will no doubt alert any club seeking to sign the defender.
And with only two years left on his deal after this season, West Ham could have a big decision to make in the coming windows if Johnson doubles down on snubbing future extensions.
West Ham warned off hijacking Aston Villa deal
Meanwhile, West Ham have been warned about the potential cost of signing Philippe Coutinho from under Aston Villa’s nose.
The Hammers were said to be looking at hijacking a move should Villa opt to sign the Brazilian permanently from Barcelona. The Midlands club reportedly have the option to do that for £33m, though it’s been claimed they could even negotiate a lower fee.
However, speaking to GiveMeSport, transfer insider Dean Jones warned against being suckered in by Coutinho’s early eye-catching displays. He said: “I don’t know where I see Coutinho right now.
“I think West Ham will be mindful of what they’re signing in Coutinho, if they were to go down that path. Because it would take a lot of money.”
There is also the added factor that Coutinho will be turning 30 years old in June, meaning his resale value will be much lower than any investment.
In contrast, fellow attacking target Jesse Lingard, who is also 29, will be available on a free and is thus a much more cost-effective option.