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Five feeder clubs for Premier League teams from past and present

Having appointed Slaven Bilic at the Upton Park helm this summer and, ahead of their anticipated switch to the Olympic Stadium next season, West Ham United have also reached an agreement with Dutch club VVV-Venlo that the two teams will exchange players.

Following the Hammers’ announcement, Coral football writers look at their new situation as well as four other Premier League outfits that have previously or currently hold agreements with feeder clubs.

West Ham – VVV-Venlo
Soccer - Barclays Under 21 Premier League - West Ham United v Chelsea - Rush Green Stadium

The east Londoners are currently enjoying a superb start to the top-flight campaign, with Bilic having led them to sixth-spot so far and just four points adrift of leaders Manchester City, making them 12/1 for a top six finish.

West Ham academy manager Terry Westley revealed that he had visited various clubs on the continent before the agreement was made, and it has already started working as young defender Sam Westley instantly joined Venlo on loan.

“It’s something we have looked at for 12 months. We have been to Slovakia, France and Holland,” stated the Hammers academy boss.

“We have met with different clubs and we chose Venlo in the end after doing our homework and looking at the environment and what the staff are like.

“We managed to get the link after I went over to Holland and met the club’s director to form a football partnership. We feel the high technical game which they play could suit our players.”

Manchester United – Royal Antwerp
Soccer - Carling Cup - Fourth Round - Manchester United v Queens Park Rangers - Old Trafford

The Red Devils have a long-standing partnership with Belgian second division club Royal Antwerp, with former players such as John O’Shea, Darron Gibson, Ryan Shawcross, Craig Cathcart, Frazier Campbell and Jonny Evans among those who benefited from the experience of first-team football there.

United have also cunningly exploited the Belgian set-up’s relaxed employment laws, having previously sent Dong Fangzhou to Antwerp after his signing in 2004, as he was loaned out for experience while an European work permit was completed as well.

Chelsea – Vitesse Arnhem
Soccer - Dutch Eredivisie - Vitesse Arnhem v Roda JC Kerkrade - Gelredome

The reigning English champions struck a deal with Dutch club Vitesse back in 2010 and have seen plenty of young Blues talents gain valuable first-team action within the Eredivisie side’s ranks.

Nemanja Matic spent time in the Netherlands and has clearly benefited from such a loan switch, as well as permanent time away from London before a welcomed return, while Tomas Kalas and Gael Kakuta are others who have made the move in recent years.

Jose Mournho’s side are currently struggling to retain their title, but could see youngsters return next year with plenty to prove, with Isaiah Brown, Danilo Pantic, Nathan and Lewis baker all presently learning their trade on loan with Vitesse.

Watford – Granada and Udinese
Soccer - UEFA Europa League - Group A - Liverpool v Udinese - Anfield

Thanks to the Pozzo family, fronted by businessman Giampaolo Pozzo, Watford have had an agreement in place with both La Liga outfit Granada and Serie A side Udinese, with all three clubs owned by the same Italian clan.

Since adding the Hornets to their list of investment opportunities, the Pozzos have sent many players between their other set-ups in Spain and Italy and the newly-promoted top tier club. Some of these include Almen Abdi, Matej Vydra and Gabriele Angella, though Giampaolo has since handed over Watford duties to his son Gino, who is based in London.

Newcastle United – Lille
French League One - Lille vs Bordeaux

Not an official partnership next, but the Toon have been known to secure signings from Ligue 1 side Lille and have evidently held a strong French connection in recent seasons.

Both Yohan Cabaye and Mathieu Debuchy were snapped up by the Magpies from Lille, while current attacker Florian Thauvin was once on the French outfit’s books, joining Marseille before eventually ending up at St James’ Park after countless attempts to capture him.

Steve McClaren may have to dive deeper into their connection with French starlets in January after a stuttering start to his tenure with the Toon, as they lie haplessly at rock-bottom and are 11/10 to face relegation.