BRIAN SCIARETTA - Tuesday, December 11, 2012
After years of developing through West Ham United's organization, Sebastian Lletget is looking to push through into the first team this season.
Lletget, 20, joined West Ham in 2009 but his history with the famed London club goes back to 2006 when he first went over for a training stint as a 14 year old.
With the introduction of the U-21 Premier League this year, Lletget has been a regular for West Ham at that level but on November 28, he was named to the first team's matchday roster for a league game against Manchester United at Old Trafford.
Lletget may have gone as an unused substitute that day but it was another indication that the San Francisco native is continuing to progress well at West Ham under head coach Sam Allardyce who was hired in 2011.
"It's been a long process," Lletget told YA. "When a new manager comes in, the first thing that comes to mind is ‘I have to impress.' It's taking a while to adapt to the new style of play which has been bringing this club a lot of success last season and this season. Well I'm use to training with them for a while now, but to be considered to play in the premier league game is always special for any player.'
It is still unclear when Lletget will get an opportunity to play with the first team but the Premier League schedule is crowded in the weeks and months ahead and depth will be tested for most of the clubs.
In the past Lletget has discussed the option of going out on loan in the past and it still may yet happen but for now he happy to remain at the club and fight for his spot on a team that sits in 11th place in the league just seven months after earning promotion.
"I've always felt confident in my ability to play at this level," Lletget explained. "If the day ever came where I get thrown into a game, I'd feel more ready than ever. If it happens this season it would be great, but if not then I just have to keep doing what I'm doing. A loan was discussed but with all the injuries in the squad I thought it would be better to stay and see if spot opens up."
When Lletget is not with first team, he plays with the club's U-21 team. 2012/13 is the inaugural season for the U-21 Premier League and its objective is to have a more structured developmental system for young players. Roughly a decade ago Germany invested an enormous amount of money to revamp their youth system and now it is considered the best in Europe.
The Premier League clubs are attempting to achieve similar results and Lletget is impressed with the quality of the U-21 league in its first year. Most notably West Ham is in first place in their division ahead of Arsenal, West Bromwich, and Everton.
"Well it's easy for me to say I've enjoyed the new U21 league because the team has done really well so far. I'm grateful for having a good coaching staff and great teammates to play alongside with. I think if you're not playing first team or on loan somewhere, this league is perfect to keep your good form and to keep fit, because it's very good level of football in my opinion."
It hasn't been a smooth road through this point as he has battled various injuries as well as a bout with mononucleosis which kept him off the field for nearly a season. For now, Lletget is optimistic for the future and is enjoying the present for West Ham.
"Well I believe great things are coming and I just have to maintain focus and keep enjoying my football," he concluded. "That's all I'm really concentrating on, whatever happens in between then will unfold by itself."