West Ham have ‘disrespected’ homegrown star with contract U-turn, as exit concerns grow

Declan Rice and Ben Johnson of West Ham

A pundit believes West Ham have ‘disrespected’ young defender Ben Johnson by changing their minds over his new contract, and the star could now leave for another club.

Johnson is a West Ham academy product, just like senior team-mate Declan Rice. He played for the Irons’ U18 and U21 teams before gaining promotion to the senior squad in July 2020.

Johnson has proven himself to be a reliable player for David Moyes, whenever he has been called upon. He can operate in several positions, mainly right-back or left-back, and this is useful when Moyes has defenders out injured.

The 22-year-old, who has won several caps for England U21s, has made 14 appearances in all competitions so far this season. He is yet to bag a goal but did register an assist during West Ham’s Europa Conference League win over FCSB on November 3.

Johnson’s West Ham contract expires in summer 2024. He apparently earns £20,000 a week, which is far less than most of his experienced team-mates.

According to Football Insider, West Ham have halted contract discussions with the defender and his agent. This is because of frustrations about them being unable to strike an agreement with him over the past 12 months or so.

Former striker Kevin Campbell thinks the contract U-turn is unfair on Johnson as he should be paid ‘the going rate’. After all, the new players who arrive in east London will be picking up big wage packets.

“You tend to find the home-grown players, mostly, don’t get treated with the same respect as these big-money signings,” Campbell said during an interview with Football Insider. “That’s why Ben Johnson is holding out.

West Ham youngster deserves some of the ‘big money’ – pundit

“He’s come through the ranks, and he’s seeing these signings coming into the club – there’s big money flying around.

“We’re talking first-team contracts. Maybe Johnson isn’t being offered the going rate – and that’s disrespectful.

“He’s very capable, he’s never let West Ham down. Maybe he wants to test the open market. If he’s a free agent, he’ll get that wage.”

Aaron Cresswell is a good player to use as a comparison. He takes home £50,000 a week according to Spotrac, which is more than double what Johnson is earning right now.

Of course, Cresswell has more experience than his full-back counterpart. But Johnson has the potential to be just as good as Cresswell. Therefore, West Ham should hand him a decent pay rise.

If Moyes’ side fail to reach an agreement in the next year, then there is the potential for the versatile player to run down his current deal. Then, he would be able to sign for a new club on a free transfer at the end of next season.

West Ham will not want this to happen. Johnson has proven he can cut it in the Premier League. And this means rival clubs from the top flight would battle to sign him.

The Irons can prevent any exit or bad situation from occurring by getting back to the negotiating table and sorting out Johnson’s new terms. This is easier said than done, but the club must find a solution relatively soon.