Joe Cole compares former club West Ham to the mighty Barcelona and hails emerging Reece Oxford

Barcelona V Madrid

Joe Cole has compared his old club West Ham United to the mighty Barcelona for their policy on youth and has hailed emerging talent Reece Oxford.

Cole was just one of a host of Premier League stars to come through West Ham's famed Academy of Football.

The east Londoners have furnished the national team and many Premier League rivals with a host of top players over the years.

In recent years alone there has been Cole, Rio Ferdinand, Frank Lampard, Michael Carrick, Jermain Defoe and Glen Johnson.

John Terry and Sol Campbell were both products of the Hammers Academy, while casting the mind further back players such as David James, Trevor Sinclair, Tony Cottee, Alvin Martin and Trevor Brooking were also international players.

And according to Cole West Ham share an important footballing philosophy with one of the world's biggest and most successful clubs, Barcelona.

The 33-year-old Aston Villa midfielder told West Ham's official website that the Hammers share more similarities than just a claret and blue kit with the illustrious Spanish and European outfit.

Clubs have more in common than just a claret and blue kit

Cole, who played 157 Premier League games for West Ham in two spells, was speaking to the club's official website on his return to the Academy training ground where he took some sessions as part of his UEFA B coaching licence.

He is already thinking about moving into coaching when his eventually hangs up his boots.

And says his old club shares a key trait with Barcelona, who's youth system La Masia is also famous for producing top talent.

"It's  the lifeblood of the club," Cole told whufc.com.

"All the top – obviously Barcelona being number one – and most successful clubs bring players through and West Ham have a good tradition of doing it."

'Times change but fundamentals are still the same'

Cole admitted a lot has changed over the last 20 years but says the fundamentals are still the same.

The former England star said of the club's latest crop, in particular the Hammers' youngest ever player Reece Oxford, coming through the ranks is the perfect example of West Ham's continued positive philosophy over youth.

"Great players have come through here," he added.

"The fundamentals are still the same about looking after the player, teaching them to play football the correct way.

"Those things will never change and its been continuous we've been bringing players through (here) forever and the new crop are just as good with your Reece Oxford's and that so it's looking bright."

Cole's comments will resonate with Hammers fans, who love nothing more than to see a homegrown talent progress to become a first team star.

Comparisons to La Masia are flattering

And his comparisons with Barcelona are flattering.

A remarkable 43 players nurtured at the Catalan club's famous La Masia academy are currently plying their trade in Europe's leading five leagues - more top-level talents than anyone else.

Barcelona at present have 13 'homegrown' players in their squad - including the likes of Lionel Messi and Andres Iniesta - while a further 30 play at top flight clubs in England, Spain, Italy, France and Germany.

They include Thiago Alcantara at Bayern Munich, Mikel Arteta at Arsenal and Gerard Deulofeu, now at Everton.

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