West Ham are leading the race to sign highly rated youngster Aodhan Doherty, according to reports. 

The Hammers have been more than pleased with the players they have signed from Northern Ireland over the past couple of years, with the likes of Patrick Kelly, Michael Forbes and Callum Marshall impressing at youth level.

Now, according to Football Insider, West Ham have their eyes set on yet another Northern Irish prospect in that of Linfield’s Aodhan Doherty. The 17-year-old winger has broke his way into the first team and has came off the bench in the club’s last two Premiership matches.

This is not the first time the East London side have shown interest in Doherty though, having already had a trial with the club earlier this year.

Unfortunately, it won’t be easy to secure his signature as he has garnered interest from multiple clubs in England. Premier League rivals Brighton (who are particularly good at integrating youth players into their starting XI) are monitoring the player, alongside Sean Dyche’s Everton.

Further down the pyramid, both QPR and Sunderland have shown his fellow countrymen that the second tier of English football offers a brilliant opportunity to impress. A move to the Championship might appeal to Doherty as it offers more of a chance to break into the first team and there certainly would be Championship clubs who would take the risk on him.

Nevertheless, there are many reasons that a move to West Ham might be more suitable for him. The main one being that he would be playing alongside multiple youth prospects who have broke into the Northern Irish national team while playing in ‘The Academy of Football’. He may see it as an opportunity to get more eyes on him and, in time, earn that senior call up.

Despite their previous success in recruiting from the North, there may be a reason that the club chose not to sign him after his trial. Maybe he did not impress enough, or maybe they thought he was best of developing at Linfield for a while.

Either way, the fact that multiple Premier League clubs have been linked with a move for him at such a young age should indicate how highly he is rated. West Ham may no longer have a clean shot at him, but the fact they are meant to be ahead of the competition is a positive indication that they may just add to their growing number of Northern Irish talents.

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