West Ham to battle Crystal Palace for teenage Championship prospect – A race they should win?

Jason Knight has impressed for Derby County in the Championship (Getty Images)

Why Jason Knight would be a good long-term signing for West Ham

According to the Daily Mirror, West Ham and Crystal Palace are set to go head-to-head in a transfer tug of war over Derby County prospect Jason Knight in the January window. 

The 19-year-old midfielder has also attracted interest from Premier League rivals Burnley but Palace and West Ham are understood to be serious about securing his services this month. Derby are keen to hold on to their star academy graduate and sit in a strong negotiating position, with Knight having a contract at Pride Park until 2023. (h/t Mirror)

Signed from Irish club Cabinteely in 2017, Knight’s stocks have been on the rise ever since his first-team breakthrough under former manager Phillip Cocu last season. The highly-rated Republic of Ireland international finished the 2019-20 campaign with 6 goals in 31 appearances in the Championship, earning rave reviews as one of the breakout stars in the second-tier.

Knight has continued to go from strength to strength this season, despite Derby County currently battling relegation in the Championship. The teenager has scored twice in 22 league outings for the Rams so far, featuring in a wide variety of roles in the middle under interim boss Wayne Rooney. 

Knight signs long-term contract with Derby County
Knight has made over 50 league appearances for Derby (Getty Images)

The Ireland international is primarily an all-action box-to-box midfielder by trade but has proven himself more than capable of switching between attacking and defensive roles. Knight has also been utilised out wide on either side of the pitch, thanks to his creativity and work rate

Jason Knight would be an ideal long-term investment for any of the aforementioned Premier League clubs. West Ham, though, would bag a real coup if they manage to beat off competition from their rivals in the race to sign the talented Irishman. 

Knight has been a real livewire in Derby’s midfield over the past 12 months and already boasts over 50 appearances in the Championship under his belt. That’s really impressive considering that he’s still only 19. The midfielder has also established himself as a regular starter for the Rams week in, week out, which speaks volumes about his development. 

In truth, West Ham can certainly do with some young blood in their midfield department. Mark Noble is clearly past his prime at 33 and is nearing the end of his contract next summer. With Robert Snodgrass also nearing his twilight, a potential deal for Knight would represent an acquisition with one eye on the future. 

Derby fans absolutely loved Jason Knight's performance against Norwich
Source: Getty Images

Verdict

Tomas Soucek and Declan Rice have struck an excellent partnership at the heart of West Ham’s midfield under David Moyes. However, the lack of quality alternatives in the department remains a pressing concern heading into a hectic second half of the season. With Noble struggling to make an impact, the Hammers should definitely look at a deal to bring Jason Knight to the London Stadium this month.

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The 19-year-old still has plenty of room for development and looks more than capable of cutting the mustard in the top-flight after a stunning start to life in the Championship. West Ham have had a lot of success with their recent raids on the Championship in the form of Jarrod Bowen and Said Benrahma. Having said that, Knight could be the next gem from the second-tier to make his move to the London Stadium.

Written by Sayan Chatterjee

A Premier League enthusiast and an avid follower of the beautiful game.

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