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Rising star midfielder cites Chelsea man as ‘icon’ after leaving Blues for West Ham

West Ham have completed the signing of promising French midfielder Pierre Ekwah Elimby from Chelsea for an undisclosed fee.

The 19-year-old has signed on an initial three-year deal, with the option to extend for a further 12 months.

The defensive midfielder had spent two weeks on trail with the Hammers towards the end of last season; he played Under-23s’ final two Premier League 2 Division 1 matches.

Ekwah had a spell at the Clairefontaine national academy before joining Chelsea in the summer of 2018. What’s more, he spent two years in the Blues’ Under-18s. From there, he earned a promotion to the Under-23s.

“I am really looking forward to getting started here. It is a big thing,” Ekwah told West Ham’s official website.

“The Under-23s and first team work closely, and I think that young players here have got a good chance of breaking through as they have done in the past.”

West Ham academy manager Ricky Martin added: “Pierre was identified by our recruitment department as a potential new addition for the Under-23s squad.

“We had an opportunity to assess him at the end of last season and, following that, we’re really happy to offer Pierre a new opportunity at West Ham with this contract.”

Ekwah played twice against Arsenal on his trial with West Ham, scoring in the second match.

Despite being a defensive midfielder, he can also operate further back – versatility which could prove crucial if he is to enter the first team.

Indeed, Declan Rice‘s ability to play both roles has seen him succeed.

Ekwah cites ex-Chelsea man

Elsewhere in his interview with the Hammers, Ekwah revealed that attacking midfield is his favourite position.

The teenager also cited ex-Chelsea man Claude Makelele as one of his inspirations growing up.

“I like creative players, and players who break things up as well. I’m a ball player as well, so that’s the position I really enjoy playing in,” Ekwah said.

“I would say, because I’m French, Zinedine Zidane [was my idol]! He was my guy. [I also like] Kaka, Andrea Pirlo, Claude Makelele…

“I wasn’t looking at just one player, I was literally looking at every single team who had that midfielder who was the break-up player or the playmaker, I was just looking at them and taking in everything I could. I still do it when I watch football.”

West Ham have produced some exciting young talents in recent seasons; full-back Ben Johnson played 14 Premier League games last season.

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