While it was confirmed several weeks ago, it became official today, the former Toronto FC defender Doneil Henry will be joining West Ham United of the English Premier League in a transfer from Cypriot club Apollon Limassol. In the process of this move being made official a number of new and interesting details have been released by his new club.
The first, and probably biggest, is the fact that Henry is headed to the club's first team, as confirmed by this tweet sent out earlier today. There was plenty of speculation as to how long it would take for Henry to crack the team, considering how well the season has been going for the Hammers, who currently sit 7th in the EPL standings. Many figured he would be loaned to a lower league English side in order to continue his development.
NEW SIGNING: Twenty-one year old Henry will wear the No25 shirt and will go straight into Sam Allardyce's first-team squad #WelcomeDoneil— West Ham United FC (@whufc_official) January 3, 2015
Sam Allardyce, West Ham United's manager, has always been high on Henry dating back to a training period with the English club during the off season. Only a year later he has made Henry his newest acquisition and seems intent on keeping him near the field, even if the Canadian international will not necessarily get plenty of playing time.
While a starting role is still very much out of the question, this certainly indicates that Henry is not nearly as far away from making his Premier League debut as many considered. While opinions on his vary, this is definitely more than a good omen for his future in Europe at just 21 years of age.
Here is a video from West Ham of Henry's initial interview with the club:
Ryan Nelsen Recommended Henry
This is one of the other interesting tidbits to come out of West Ham United's release on acquiring Henry. It is the fact that now former Toronto FC manager Ryan Nelsen originally recommended the young centreback to Allardyce. Nelsen, himself, is a highly regarded Premier League centreback and therefore his vote of confidence in a young player should not go unnoticed.
Say what you will about Nelsen, but he almost certainly paved the way into the Premier League for Henry. While the absence of the young Canadian doesn't really do any favours for Toronto's backline, it certainly helps Canadian soccer in general. It also reflects well on Toronto FC's development program, which is truly starting to produce some quality talents. It is far too premature to say, but there is a chance Nelsen has paved the way into England for not only Henry but a number of young Canadian players.
Transfer Fee From Apollon Limassol Undisclosed
For many, one of the most interesting aspects of this deal was always going to be what Apollon Limassol received in exchange for the young Canadian. It became quickly obvious that their only role in this was profit. One of the big questions that remained for many was how much they made off of this entire deal.
While rumours have indicated that the transfer fee was somewhere around 2 million US, there has been no official word to back this up, so it should be considered speculation at this point. It is, however, a number that would seem fairly accurate in terms of the range of transfer fee that is normally spent on a young player like Henry.