Just after Reece Oxford was beginning to see some game-time whilst on loan with German side Borussia Monchengladbach, the 19 year-old has had his loan-spell cut short by parent club West Ham as David Moyes insists he will feature for the first team. With the Hammers struggling in the Premier League, the young defender could definitely be given time to shine on the pitch and become the player he was always hyped up to be.
West Ham fans will certainly remember Reece Oxford and his debut for the club. The 16-year-old at the time had the challenging looking task of facing Mesut Ozil and co when the Hammers went away to Arsenal on the first day of the 2015/16 season. West Ham that day ran away 2-0 winners in an amazing team performance, helped massively by Reece Oxford marking Ozil out the game for the duration of the match. Oxford was even playing as a defensive midfielder, a position he needed to adapt to straight away given he is an out and out defender. Many fans that day would have looked at Reece Oxford as a young Rio Ferdinand in the making, a player who started at West Ham and became one of the great defenders in English football.
Not only West Ham fans but football fans in general believed they were witnessing a truly special talent, especially as in the Arsenal game, he was only 16 years old.
However the game after that great Emirates victory, West Ham lost at home to Leicester who that season went on to win the Premier League, a miracle all of football remembers! That day, Reece Oxford was taken off at half-time by Slaven Bilic as the Englishman was simply getting overrun in midfield.
Then began the decline.
After that game, Oxford could never really find his way back into the starting line-up and eventually slumped back down to captain West Ham’s under 21’s. Even still at his young age, he was leaps and bounds over other players in his team and the opposition so West Ham decided at the start of 2017, it would be best for Oxford to go out on-loan and get experience in the Championship. Many teams were after his signature but Reading and the guarantee of regular football was the option chosen by Reece Oxford. However, even with the guarantee, Oxford only made 5 appearances in total for the Royals in what would see his progression hit a stumbling block and many people believed that the hype around the young defender was too much and he would become another classic case of a failed wonderkid.
Surprisingly though, at the start of this 2017/18 football season, Reece Oxford was given a life-line by Borussia Monchengladbach, who are realistically a better team that West Ham. With that in mind, it was hard to see Oxford getting much playing time out in Germany and that thought was correct in the first few months of his stay their. After remaining on the bench for the first 9 Bundesliga games in a row, Oxford finally made his debut, coming on for the last 3 minutes when Borussia Monchengladbach beat Hoffenheim 3-1.
In the past months, Oxford had his break in the first-team and impressed during his minutes on the pitch. Despite only making 3 appearances for Die Fohlen, many classed his spell as a successful one and was even subject to rumours of staying in Germany permanently. It was reported Thursday that big German spenders RB Leipzig wanted Oxford in a transfer that could have rose to €16m.
Nevertheless, West Ham boss David Moyes is keen on looking at Oxford to see what he can bring to West Ham’s defence. Moyes said: “I hope we can help improve him – I’ve only just met him, but I know he is well thought of here and we will work with him.”
So after a turbulent couple of years for Reece Oxford, can he still become the next Rio Ferdinand or should West Ham cash in whist they can?
When 16-year-old Reece Oxford stepped onto the scene, I believed that his name was up in lights for a reason. The build and stature the young man has is perfect for a centre-back. The youngster is a modern centre-back meaning he can confidently play with the ball but even if he lost possession, he also has the pace other defenders lack to recover.
Even after unsuccessful early decisions in his career, Oxford is still only 19 and has plenty of years ahead of him to learn and become a better player. What better time to progress at West Ham than when they are struggling for form and to deal with injuries. Jose Fonte and James Collins are both nearing the end of their career’s, Winston Reid and Angelo Ogbonna are good defenders but can both be unreliable. David Moyes will have a completely different approach to player management compared to Slaven Bilic and with Moyes’ “Don’t run, Don’t play” philosophy, Oxford could really blossom under the new look West Ham management.
It certainly makes me wonder when RB Leipzig, if rumours are to be believed, are willing to pay up €16m already for a player who has made a total of 22 first team career appearances. In fact it makes me think that West Ham were too quick to send young Oxford away on-loan and that the England U20 man will be destined to have a future at the top level.
Hammers fans are desperate for another home-grown success to come through their club who are the self-proclaimed “academy of football” after producing players such as Frank Lampard, Joe Cole, Jermain Defoe and Rio Ferdinand. Many were upset in the first place that Reece Oxford was allowed to leave on-loan and even at the tender age of 19, it appears this could be his last chance to impress in claret and blue.
We will soon see the Hammers and their ambition regarding Oxford as the January transfer window opens in a matter of days, with a couple of teams already registering an interest in taking Reece Oxford away from the London Stadium on a permanent basis. Will West Ham finally give one of their academy stars a platform at the club to be able to feature in games, to learn and progress?
Or will they snatch at the money for a player who could be worth an eye-watering amount in the future? With the current price for players being so high, just imagine if Oxford can progress as a player, how much could he be worth?
If given the chance to shine, we could be looking at a future West Ham and even England captain in the making. No pressure, Reece Oxford.