West Ham: Moyes had a mare with sale of gem whose value’s soared 5,566%

Declan Rice became the most expensive West Ham United academy graduate in the history of the club when he completed his move away from the London Stadium this year.

The England international signed for Arsenal for a club-record £105m, which is a record between two English clubs and just shy of the British transfer record of £106.8m that was set by Enzo Fernandez’ move to Chelsea from Benfica.

West Ham’s current most valuable former academy players:


Market value (via Transfermarkt)

Declan Rice


Josh Cullen


Ben Johnson


Toni Martinez


Sorba Thomas


A number of talented players have come through the youth set-up for the Hammers over the years and the likes of Frank Lampard, Joe Cole, and Rio Ferdinand paved the way for them when they became England stars after starting their careers in London.

Rice appears to be the next academy graduate who is set to enjoy a fantastic career now that he has moved to Champions League side Arsenal, but West Ham do not always make the best decisions over their young prospects.

One player whom David Moyes may now regret allowing to move on too early is central midfielder Pierre Ekwah, who departed the club in January to sign for Championship side Sunderland.

How many appearances did Ekwah make for West Ham?

The French battler did not make a single first-team appearance for the Hammers during his time at the London Stadium but did catch the eye with his performances at youth level.

He racked up nine goals and three assists in 39 U21 matches before his move to the Black Cats. However, that was not enough to convince Moyes to hand him an opportunity to impress at senior level.

Ekwah did showcase his quality against first-team opposition in the EFL Trophy for West Ham, though, during the first half of the 2022/23 campaign.

The midfield ace averaged a Sofascore rating of 7.00 across three appearances against Walsall, MK Dons, and Cheltenham as he caught the eye on and off the ball.

His creativity was on full display with two key passes per game for his teammates to open up the opposition’s defence at the top end of the pitch. Meanwhile, no Hammers player managed more than 1.4 key passes per match throughout the Premier League season last term.

He also made two tackles and interceptions combined per outing and won 54% of his individual duels, as per Sofascore, which showed that the young gem was ready to deal with the physicality of the professional game.

These displays for West Ham came after he started his career with Chelsea, where Ekwah scored five goals and provided two assists in 24 matches for their U18 side.

How much was Ekwah worth at West Ham?

At the time of his move to Sunderland in January 2023, FootballTransfers placed the central midfielder’s Expected Transfer Value (xTV) at just €60k (£52k).


He had yet to make the first senior appearance of his career and the Black Cats took a leap of faith to sign him from the London-based side as Tony Mowbray seemingly saw the potential there for Ekwah to be an excellent option for his team.

Whereas, Moyes never offered him the chance to shine in a West Ham shirt in a competitive setting and sanctioned a permanent exit for him in January, without seeing what he could do out on loan or in a match for his first-team.

How many games has Ekwah played for Sunderland?

Mowbray has made the France U20 international a key cog in his Black Cats side this season and he has made 25 appearances for the club in total this year.

However, Ekwah did not become an immediate success at the Stadium of Light as the second half of last season was a struggle at times.

He had not played any senior football before his move to Wearside and the end of the 2022/23 campaign was his introduction to the professional game.

The French gem averaged an unimpressive Sofascore rating of 6.57 across 14 Championship appearances for Sunderland, which was the 23rd-highest score within their squad. This shows that the midfield maestro struggled to adapt at first as he was not among the club’s top performers.

Ekwah, who journalist Josh Bunting once hailed as “excellent”, has now found his feet at senior level, though, and has emerged as an outstanding player for Mowbray at the start of the 2023/24 campaign.

He has averaged an excellent Sofascore rating of 7.27 across six Championship games so far this term, which is the fifth-highest score within the club, and caught the eye with his fantastic performances in midfield.

The former Chelsea prospect has been reliable in possession with 90% of his attempted passes being completed and showcased his defensive instincts with three tackles and interceptions per game, to go along with two goals, as per Sofascore.

How much is Ekwah worth now?

At the time of writing (29/09/2023), FootballTransfers has placed his xTV at €3.4m (£2.9m) and this shows that his market value has skyrocketed since leaving West Ham in January.

His xTV has soared by a staggering 5,566% from the initial €60k that he was valued at earlier this year, which shows that exposure to first-team football has helped him to thrive as a player.

Mowbray and Sunderland showed faith in the young dynamo’s ability and they are now benefitting from it on the pitch with his sublime performances in the Championship this season.

Ekwah also has the time, at the age of 21, to develop and increase his value further at the Stadium of Light, which could be helped if they are able to secure promotion to the Premier League.

Therefore, Moyes had a mare with the sale of the former Chelsea academy prospect in January as his xTV has soared since his London Stadium exit and the Scottish head coach did not give him a chance to prove himself with the Hammers.

West Ham could also have sent him out on loan instead of sanctioning a permanent move in order to see how he would fare with regular first-team football.

This could have given the manager the evidence he needed to make a decision on the player’s future, instead of doing so without knowing how he would cope with senior games.

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