Most of you will have probably already read reports on various websites that claim that one of West Ham’s most promising young players, Elliot Lee, will not sign a new contract with the Hammers.

Lee, 19, is arguably one of the club’s best young prospects and has scored an impressive eight goals in 13 games for Nick Haycock’s development squad so far this season, but negotiations over a new deal have apparently stalled.

Lee made his first team debut as a 78th minute substitute in the FA Cup 3rd round replay defeat against Manchester United. He then followed that up with his Premier League debut coming on as a substitute in a 0-1 home defeat to Stoke. Further first team opportunities have been hard to come by, and on the 22nd of October 2013, Lee went out on a one month loan to Colchester United, where he made four appearances and notched one goal in the process.

According to a few unofficial Hammers websites & some “In The Knows” on Twitter, a number of Championship clubs are keeping an eye on the striker’s contract situation. Elliot has been at West Ham, a club famous for its academy, since he was seven years of age.

The West Ham board will need to act fast if they are to avoid another situation like Rob Hall, who moved to Bolton Wanderers last July with the Professional Football Compensation Committee setting a £450,000 fee.

The recent reports have also had me continually thinking, why hasn’t he signed a new contract yet?

Does he not envisage himself being given a decent chance of first team football any time soon under the current management and or tactics?

Is he looking to drop down to the Championship in order to get first team football, much like Rob Hall? Or are we are over-hyping the youngster and the club themselves have actually decided not to renew his contract?

Personally I don’t beleive the latter to be true, but I thought i’d chuck it into the mixer anyway to get some of your thoughts.

I for one hope that the reports turn out to be rubbish and Elliot signs on for a good few years, but it does bring up the question a lot of people have been asking lately…are West Ham still the Academy of Football?

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