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West Ham beating Chelsea to land this 18-year-old sensation would be a terrific coup by Pellegrini

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West Ham opinion: Hammers should win the race for Leon Maloney

According to The Sun, West Ham have joined Chelsea in the race to sign Portsmouth whizkid Leon Maloney, who made his first-team breakthrough at Fratton Park the last term. 

Despite the current transfer embargo, Chelsea have stepped up their interest in the promising 18-year-old winger after receiving positive reports on his abilities from various scouts, The Sun understands. 

The same report claims that West Ham also believe Maloney has the technical abilities and the natural finesse to evolve into a Premier League quality player over the next two or three years with a bit more polishing. 

Recently-relegated Fulham are also keen to secure the services of the Fratton Park prodigy, as are a number of other Championship and League One clubs. (h/t The Sun)

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However, Chelsea and West Ham are set to face stiff competition from the Netherlands in their pursuit of the talented 18-year-old this summer.

Wim Jonk, who is the current manager of Dutch second-tier side Volendam and former Head of Academy at Ajax, has been left impressed by the League One starlet. (h/t Sun)

The Sun suggests that Jonk wants to bring Maloney to Volendam on loan for the upcoming season and draft him into his first-team plans, with a view to making the move permanent.

However. Portsmouth manager Kenny Jackett is also keen to integrate Maloney into his plans for the next term, so it remains to be seen what the future holds for the 18-year-old.

The Isle of Wight-born attacker plundered as many as 26 goals for Portsmouth’s academy side last season, having largely featured in a wide role in the final third.

 Chelsea and West Ham are on the trail of Portsmouth starlet Leon Maloney - who is also wanted in Holland

He was loaned out to Isthmian Premier Division side Bognor Regis Town to allow him to continue his development with more regular minutes, with a view to making the jump from the academy side to senior football. 

Maloney finally made his Portsmouth debut in a 2-0 victory over Southend United in the Checkatrade Trophy in January and that might as well prove to be his last at Fratton Park, with several bigger clubs weighing up moves for him this summer. 

To put things into perspective, Maloney has only a single year left to run on his scholarship deal at Portsmouth and West Ham should look to snap him up for a thrifty sum of money this summer. 

The 18-year-old has hardly played any senior football but he looks like a real talent at this stage of his career and the Hammers might have a gem on their hands if he goes on to fulfil his potential at East London in the years to come. 

The Hammers already have some talented youngsters like Grady Diangana, Xande Silva, Conor Coventry, Josh Cullen and a few others hovering in the periphery of the first-team and Leon Maloney could be brought in to improve the depth of the reserve and development side.

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Given that the 18-year-old hasn’t played a lot at the senior level, he is likely to be drafted into the U-19 or U-21 side and then it will be up to him to work his way up the ladder. 

West Ham have already made a strong statement of intent this summer with deals for Sebastien Haller and Pablo Fornals and, while Maloney is not likely to play an immediate role in the first-team, the Hammers should look at him as one of the future. 

All clubs need to supplement their youth sides with top-quality talent in order to build a strong platform and keep moving in the right direction. Maloney would add to West Ham’s homegrown quota of players, which is certainly another advantage.

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With that in mind, it should be a no-brainer for Manuel Pellegrini to complete a deal for the burgeoning Portsmouth talent this summer.