Name: Divin Mubama
Club: West Ham United
Preferred Foot: Left
Strengths: Physical strength, hold-up play, ball-striking, finishing
Areas for development: first touch
Having neglected to sign a replacement for Gianluca Scamacca in the summer, West Ham find themselves desperately short on striker depth. Indeed, with Michail Antonio suffering ligament damage while on international duty with Jamaica, the Hammers only have one natural central forward in the squad: Danny Ings, who has scored just 3 goals and 2 assists in 38 appearances since joining the East London club in January.
So far, it hasn’t proven that much of an issue, with Jarrod Bowen slotting into an unnatural position and leading the line in stellar fashion. Between him, Lucas Paqueta and new signing Mohammed Kudus, they have combined for 25 goals and 9 assists. Still, with West Ham balancing domestic competitions with the Europa League, it’s clear that depth is needed in attack.
One potential option could be Divin Mubama. He turned 19 less than two months ago, but he has already made waves in the first team this season with a total of eight appearances for David Moyes’ side. Having finished as top scorer in last season’s FA Youth Cup, Mubama could save West Ham from having to make a costly January purchase.
Born in Newham, England to Congolese parents, Mubama spent nine years at West Ham’s academy before finally making his first-team debut on November 3, 2022, with his header being diverted into goal by FCSB’s Joyskim Dawa for West Ham’s second goal in a 3-0 win. He has found first-team minutes slightly easier to come by this season, coming off the bench in each of the last two league matches, but becoming an all-out member of Moyes’ squad is still a work in progress.
Mubama has good in the box movement and instincts, and he’s a traditional number 9 in the exact profile that West Ham’s system is built around. A striker who can win duels (aerial and ground), hold up the ball, run the channels and link other attackers — Mubama has it all in his locker. He is a physically imposing striker who uses his upper body strength to hold off defenders to allow other attackers to join in, and he could very well be the long-term replacement to Antonio, who is approaching 34 years of age.
One aspect of Mubama’s game that makes him stand out is his ball-striking ability. He’s such a powerful player and hence is able to generate a lot of power in his shots when he strikes the ball cleanly. Because of this, his left foot is dangerous from outside the box as well as inside of it. Despite his formidable stature, the teenager has quick feet and is quite agile, enabling him to drop the shoulder quickly to create separation and space to shoot — when in the box, he shows good composure to take his time and finish accurately.
Mubama is also strong aerially, as his movement and spatial awareness allows to create space from his marker and get a free header, but he also has a great leap to jump above others and win the header. However, one area for development would be his first touch. Sometimes it’s a little heavy which can allow him to be dispossessed — honing this area of his game and getting a more consistent first touch will allow him to reach his potential.
It remains to be seen if West Ham decide to dip into the transfer market next month and loan out Mubama to an EFL side or keep him in the first-team squad, but one thing’s for sure: If he can continue developing at this rate, it’ll only be a matter of time before Mubama starts getting consistent minutes for the Hammers.
By: Ben Mattinson / @Ben_Mattinson
Featured Image: @GabFoligno / West Ham United FC / Getty Images