West Ham United

West Ham United

Premier League • England

West Ham star to make key decision on future amid Leeds United links

West Ham players Ben Johnson and Jarrod Bowen

Ben Johnson and Jarrod Bowen celebrating for West Ham

West Ham defender Ben Johnson is reportedly going to decide on his future next week amid links with Leeds United.

The full-back has spent his entire footballing career at West Ham after joining the club as a seven-year-old in 2007, before working his way up the ranks of the club’s famous academy.

He signed his first professional contract when he turned 18 in January 2018 and went on to make his debut 13 months later against Manchester City.

Despite being highly regarded at the Hammers, Johnson has struggled to tie down a regular starting spot at the Premier League side – with Vladimir Coufal his main barrier to entry.

Of his 109 appearances to date, 70 have been as a starter and this season he played just 22 times in all competitions – and 15 of those were from the bench.

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That lack of game time has led to Johnson letting his London Stadium contract wind down, with the 24-year-old set to become a free agent from next month.

In January, Leeds were very keen on recruiting the right-back in their bid to secure an immediate return to the Premier League and by the time April rolled round, that interest grew to Southampton and Ipswich Town, along with Daniel Farke’s men.

Early last month, TEAMtalk revealed the east London outfit tabled another contract offer to try and keep him at the club but an agreement still eluded them.

Despite West Ham’s efforts to tie him down to a new deal – which, according to The Athletic, included a new five-year contract – Johnson could be without a club in a matter of weeks, with Crystal Palace and Rangers said to be interested, too.

Ben Johnson nears West Ham decision

Now, Football Insider claims the ex-England Under-21 international will decide on his next move in just a matter of days.

The report adds Johnson is ‘keeping his options open’, with his decision based on where he can best progress and develop his overall game.

Incidentally, former Manchester United defender Paul Parker – who is Johnson’s cousin – believes he needs to move on from West Ham – but moving on from the one club he has ever known may be tough.

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Back when manager David Moyes was still in charge, he said: “I don’t think he can stay there if I am honest. It’s blatantly obvious at the moment that the manager (David Moyes) is not looking at him.

“There were clubs that have come in for him so I think he needs to move on and he needs to change clubs to get regular football.

“He doesn’t want to leave West Ham as it’s been his life from a young age, but sometimes you can’t let your heart rule your head.

“If you don’t go and take an opportunity and you stay at a club where it doesn’t work out, you can end up having a lot of regrets for the rest of your life.”