West Ham United left to rue Sonny Perkins departure as Leeds United teen's run continues
Sonny Perkins scored on his England under-19s debut on Wednesday night to maintain a 100% scoring record since his exit from West Ham this summer.
The teenager, 18, was highly rated as a Hammers prospect, scoring 12 times in Premier League 2 last season, before a contentious departure from the club.
Claret & Hugh reported on 9 June a London Stadium source saying: “The agent wants silly money to extend his contract for a player who has yet to play a first team game.”
Agreement was never reached and he eventually signed for Leeds United after his contract expired, at which point the Irons expressed their displeasure in no uncertain terms, releasing a statement on their website on 1 July that said: “The Club is disappointed with Perkins’ representatives and strongly believe he was approached to sign for another club which led to him asking to be released from his scholarship at West Ham United.
“West Ham United take this matter very seriously – we believe the rules and structures in place at the Football Association and Premier League should be upheld at all times.”
He has since scored at least once in every game for the Leeds under-21s, picking up the Premier League 2 player of the month for August along the way, while receiving his first call up for the under-19s at international level where he duly started on Wednesday night (21 September) and scored again in a 2-0 win over Montenegro.
That raises the uncomfortable question in east London of whether the Irons should have swallowed their pride and met the “silly” demands of his agent, if they weren’t so silly that other clubs didn’t baulk at them [ExWHUemployee, 3 June].
The quick answer is obviously no, because the club don’t want to be held hostage by the whims of an agent who is trying his luck, or pushed into a corner by another club acting in an underhand manner as West Ham suggested in their statement.
That makes plenty of sense. Agents aren’t generally a popular group so it would not be a pleasant experience to have to cede to Perkins’ representation in this situation, and no club wants to be pushed around.
But Perkins appears to have already kicked up a gear and has half of his Premier League 2 output from last season already in less than a quarter of the games – six goals in five games – and it won’t be long before he is pushing for top flight involvement, so it may have been worth the investment.
If he is the talent that the scoring run is starting to suggest then doubt creep in as to whether perhaps he should have already played a few more first team games in claret and blue in order to earn the money that was being asked for.
Unpalatable as it is, top sides routinely take major financial hits on fees to agents or extortionate wages if they see it as worth the benefit of getting their man.
Perhaps it is admirable that West Ham took a stand and refused to bow to the pressure, but unless this is a fluke purple patch for Perkins it could look more and more like a missed opportunity as time goes on.
Time will tell, and it may have been the right stance to take on principle even if he ends up as Premier League golden boot winner, but there will be a growing number within the fanbase, and even inside the club, who are wondering weather a star has slipped through their fingers.
Fair questions about wage structure and how it would make other players feel would of course factor in, but before signing Gianluca Scamacca this summer the club went 18-months with Michail Antonio toiling alone up front, when maybe they should have been blooding their teenage sensation before it ever reached the unsavoury point it did this summer.
If Perkins’ form deserts him and he fades into obscurity it will seem ridiculous to have even raised the question, and the Irons will have been fully vindicated, but if it continues in the same direction it will be a lot less comfortable.