Why West Ham target Alex Scott could be the real deal


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When Premier League clubs were first linked with Bristol City’s Alex Scott earlier this summer, social media was awash with jokes about why would they be looking to sign a retired Arsenal and England player.

The Guernsey-born Scott has some catching up to do to match his football pundit namesake’s fame, but the fact West Ham, among others, are contemplating meeting City’s public £25m valuation of the 19-year-old suggests his stock is only going one way.

That kind of sum is far less eye-catching in the Championship these days but still represents a significant outlay for a player who has only just finished his second full season at that level, and is barely 100 games into his professional career.

There is good reason for the interest. Scott beat Sunderland’s Man Utd loanee Amad Diallo to the EFL Young Player of the Season award earlier this year, much to his rival’s chagrin, and has been talked up by Robins boss Nigel Pearson, not a man to mince his words, as a future international after already helping England U19s to the European Championships title in 2022.

“He’s just a very unique talent and he’s got a very impressive temperament,” Pearson told Bristol Live. “I think he’s destined for the very top but football dictates to you what is going to happen because you can’t always be in control of your own destiny.”

For the mean time the Robins are desperate to tie Scott down to a new deal, with his existing contract due to expire in 2025, but may have to cash in on their crown jewel sooner rather than later.

He was even singled out for praise by Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola, who called him an “unbelievable player” after the treble-winners’ FA Cup victory at Ashton Gate in February.

The reviews provide plenty of optimism, but a quick sweep of the forward-thinking midfielder’s stats do not give much indication of what he is about. One goal and four assists in 40 Championship games are not going to turn too many heads on their own.

It is partly because this versatile ‘Rolls Royce’, plucked from eighth-tier Guernsey three years ago thanks to connections with City’s owner, is already an all-round package – some achievement for a player who does not turn 20 until August.

After that meeting with Man City, Scott revealed Jack Grealish as his footballing idol, and the £100m man would be well-placed to provide some sympathy for the Championship’s most-fouled player in 2022/23.

As with Grealish in the Premier League, that record stems from his poise, touch and close control which are already among the division’s best – only 10 midfielders completed more take-ons last season. His ability to glide past opposition players is something few others in the Championship can match, and already offers hints of Premier League class.

That he stands out is all the more impressive given he has not always been playing in his favoured role, in the hole behind a front man. Scott was also deployed in a midfield two, out wide and even at wing-back across the campaign, owing to City’s injury-hit campaign and his own aptitude to fill a variety of roles.

Part of that does inflate his high defensive rankings among Championship midfielders, especially 77 tackles, only nine fewer than promoted Luton anchorman Marvelous Nakamba. Equally, it serves to highlight the defensive skillset he has in his arsenal beyond the assured possessional play which has caught the eye of the top flight.

His importance to Bristol City has not been unlike Alexis Mac Allister at Brighton, nearly as valuable without the ball as with it. Even accounting for that smorgasbord of roles he won the ball back in the final third 24 times last season, defending from the front – and possessing the quality to hurt any opposition once he makes a tackle.

Scott was first choice in England U20s' midfield at this summer's World Cup in Argentina
Scott was first choice in the England U20 midfield at this summer’s World Cup in Argentina

Beneath the numbers, Scott is simply a very talented footballer, capable and willing to take the ball on the half-turn and in tight spaces, with the confidence and guile to beat a man and the quality to pick a pass. He created 38 chances for his peers last season, the most of any player in the Bristol City squad.

Few obvious weaknesses to his game have shown themselves so far – he probably wouldn’t be much use between the sticks, though ex-City No 1 Dan Bentley, who left the club for Wolves in January, may even disagree to that.

The goalkeeper has even taken to publicly tapping up his former colleague, with Wolves said to be among those interested in mounting a summer move.

Bentley was never likely to talk down an old team-mate when asked about a potential reunion, but neither did he have to speak with quite such enthusiasm about the teenager.

“If I was asked, I’d say get the chequebook out,” he told reporters. “He’s an absolutely phenomenal player with the world at his feet, I’ve seen all the plaudits recently, he can go all the way and so he should because he’s a magnificent player.”

A move to the big time is some way from completion just yet. Bristol City CEO Phil Alexander told Bristol Live this week the club have received no formal offers, and they have already prepared two recruitment strategies for this summer – one without the midfielder affectionately named ‘Starboy’ at Ashton Gate and the other with him remaining, for this transfer window at least.

But with interest beginning to build almost two months ahead of the new Premier League season, it seems inevitable at least one suitor will test the Robins’ resolve before Transfer Deadline Day.

Boss Pearson, at least, retains some optimism that he might remain at Ashton Gate beyond the summer. “It would be nice for us to have a crack at getting promotion next season with all our young players still here,” he told BBC Radio Bristol.

But with the world very much aware of the talent his side have in their midfield dynamo, that increasingly seems more in hope than expectation.

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Alexandra Williams
Alexandra Williams
Alexandra Williams is a writer and editor. Angeles. She writes about politics, art, and culture for LinkDaddy News.

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