Teenager Louie Watson has signed his first professional contract with West Ham United.

The Republic of Ireland under-18 international is a creative, attacking midfield player who has been with the club since he was 12 and is targeting a regular place in the Hammers’ Premier League 2 side next season.

Speaking to the club’s website, Watson said: “It’s a great achievement. Me and my family are really happy with what I’ve achieved and now I’ve got it I’ve got to work harder on and off the pitch to get where I want to be and that’s the Premier League.

“It’s the first contract and hopefully it’s the first of many, so I’ve got to push on. I hope to have a strong season with the 23s next season and ultimately get into the first team.

“It’s all about how you do and how you present yourself on and off the pitch. If you’re being the best you can be every day and do things properly, in training and in games, it will come together in your performances and that’s the main part of it for me, really.”

Watson has been in and around the first team squad during training during the latter part of this season and that exposure, as well as working with the likes of Jack Collison, Steve Potts and Carlton Cole in the academy, has inspired him to follow the lifestyle required to make it to the top.

He said: “It’s every academy player’s dream to play in the Premier League and training and being around the first-team squad enables you to see their habits and what they have to do to get there and stay there. You’ve got to feed off what they do, on and off the pitch, and hopefully get a chance and then grab it with both hands when it comes.

“I’m working closely with Jack Collison, who is my mentor, going through my clips, working on extras and analysing my training sessions and games to get the best out of me. That has been very important to me, helping me to learn and repeat new movements, skills and tricks to help me better myself.”

The 18-year-old’s main position is in an attacking role behind the strikers, and he has hopes that his flair an creative ability will be enough to help him reach his goals.

He said: “Playing in that number 10 position I feel like I can open up defences, I can beat players, score goals and assist goals. That’s where I want to be when I get to the top.

“Players like Kevin de Bruyne and Manuel Lanzini are the best at what they do and who I want to be like when I’m older, breaking down defences and dominating teams.”

On signing his contract, Watson was keen to thank his family for their support, including father Steve, who enjoyed a long career at semi-professional level and was captain of the Farnborough Town side that played Arsenal at Highbury in the 2002/03 FA Cup.

He said: “My family have taken me to training and been by my side from day dot, so I’d like to thank them, as well as my coaches and everyone who has helped me in my career so far, and hopefully will do so for many more years to come.”

In the Hammers’ Under-18 Premier League season in 2018/19, Watson scored one goal and provided three assists in his eight appearances as they finished eighth in the southern section of the league.