Name: Ben Johnson
Club: West Ham United
Date of Birth: 24 January 2000
Position: Defender (Right-back/Centre-back), Midfielder (Wide/Defensive)
Ben Johnson – his career so far
Ben Johnson was born in an already well-established football family. He is the nephew of former Manchester United and England full-back Paul Parker and the cousin of former England and Tottenham Hotspur defender Ledley King so needless to say, ever since an early age, big things were expected from him.
The London-born player joined West Ham United’s academy at the age of just seven and featured regularly in every age-group side he has featured in, impressing the upper hierarchy and establishing himself as a big part of every single squad he had a chance to play for.
Interestingly enough, he wasn’t always a defender nor a midfielder. As a teenage schoolboy, Johnson had to be converted from a winger into an attack-minded right-back and that has since boosted his progress massively.
Johnson has been a prominent part of both the U18 and the U23 squads, making his Premier League 2 Division 1 debut as a second-half substitute in the 2-2 draw at home to Leicester City on 10 February 2017. Since then, he could muster a total of 24 appearances for the younger development squad, even tallying one assist under his name in the process as well.
But his stay with the older team proved to be much better for the now 20-year-old defender as he recorded 48 appearances, even netting a goal for himself and a total of five assists on the side too.
In 2017/18, he was named on the substitutes’ bench in the Premier League for the first time away against Manchester City in December 2017 and would then, poetically enough, make his full debut in a 1-0 Premier League defeat against the same team in February 2019.
Unfortunately, that game against the Citizens is still, to this date, the only senior team appearance that Johnson has under his belt apart from sitting on the bench for two other occasions, once in the Premier League and once in the EFL Cup.
But that doesn’t really take anything away from his talent and big things are still expected from the youngster in the near future.
The latest transfer news on Johnson was the signing of his contract extension back in March 2019. That deal will ensure the 20-year-old defender stays at the club until at least the summer of 2022 and with West Ham’s recurring issues in the backline, especially in the full-back area, it might be wise for them to keep hold of the young talent.
Of course, he is not the only option from the academy and it feels like Jeremy Ngakia is still ahead of him despite being younger but there are no West Ham news indicating Johnson could be leaving the club in the near future.
The latest injury he sustained after a successful pre-season with the seniors meant that his progress was somewhat halted and that was then also highlighted by the recent outbreak. But he could still go on to do great things for the Hammers if groomed properly.
Having been a winger in the early parts of his career, it doesn’t really surprise that Johnson has transferred some of that attacking instinct, aggression and offensive-mindedness to his new role as the team’s right-back.
The 20-year-old is extremely quick on his feet, has great acceleration and can run up and down the pitch throughout the 90 minutes, making him an incredible asset both in attack and defence.
But it’s also the technique that counts and a good first touch and control of the ball mean he can link up with his teammates well and even cross into the area with decent precision. He’s not much for the final product anymore, however, and is more about creating and exploiting the space rather than finishing the actions himself.
Defensively, Johnson can boast with good tackling abilities and high work-rate and those are attributes a great full-back must have.
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