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Have West Ham signed the next star from Belgium’s ‘Academy’?

| 02.06.2015

The emergence of the likes of Rio Ferdinand, Frank Lampard, Michael Carrick and Jermain Defoe from West Ham’s youth side in the late 1990s saw West Ham adorned with the moniker of ‘The Academy’, but now it appears the tables have turned.

According to The Sun, the currently managerless side have completed their second signing of the summer from a side who themselves have provided an early starting place for many top players.

Apparently arriving from KRC Genk for a fee reported to be around £4m is Kara Mbodj, following the acquisition of goalkeeper Darren Randolph on a free transfer.

The Senegalese 25-year-old is a defensive central midfielder that is also capable of dropping back into defence, showing versatility that could be vital for the east London side in their soon-to-be busy schedule.

With Alex Song’s loan from Barcelona coming to an end, there is a gap in the middle of the park to be filled at Upton Park, and the 15-capped player could be just the man to fill it.

If he can match the heights reached by plenty of other Genk alumni, West Ham will be thrilled with their purchase.

Mbodj may not have started his career at the club, arriving in 2013 from Tromso, but it is fair to say he has thrived in Belgium.

Wolfsburg’s Kevin De Bruyne did start out at Smurfen, while it was also the likes of Christian Benteke and Chelsea goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois all enjoyed spells at the club before coming to the Premier League.

With that trio rumoured to be valued at around £30m each, according to the rumour mill, a return of investment on anything in the same ball-park would certainly appease Messrs Gold and Sullivan.

They would certainly settle for a similar impact to the last Senegalese defensive midfielder they signed from the Jupiler League.

Cheikhou Kouyate has been a revelation for the Hammers since arriving from Anderlecht last summer, making 31 appearances in a season of consistent showings.

The pair played alongside each other for The Lions of Teranga at the 2012 London Olympics, so any guidance from his compatriot Kouyate would go down well.

His arrival could spell a busy summer for the side, with a Europa League campaign set to get underway in a month’s time.

They will certainly want to build a squad capable of handling the arduous fixture list, and make sure they avoid a slump in league form, with an unexpected drop to the Championship next season priced at 6/1.

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Ben Stones

Ladbrokes News’ equine expert, Ben likes nothing more than studying the form to pick out a winner or two for our readers. A Journalism and Media Studies graduate from the University of Winchester, Ben has previously written for a number of football and racing blogs and websites, as well as contributing to the sports pages of his home-town newspaper.