What has happened to Reece Oxford?

  • by Joe Dear
  • Filed: Wednesday, 22nd August 2018

9th August 2015. Arsenal 0-2 West Ham. Man of the Match - Reece Oxford.

We all remember Oxford's dream debut on that sunny Sunday afternoon at the Emirates in the opening fixture of the 2015/16 season. But what has happened to him since? And what can we expect in the future from a player who was dubbed the next Rio Ferdinand?

Oxford's official West Ham debut came in the Europa League qualifying round against Lusitanos. At the age of 16 years and 198 days he became the club's youngest ever player. He followed this with his memorable midfield performance in his Premier League debut against Arsenal just over a month later.

Embed from Getty Images

Despite his tender age, Oxford's physical attributes and confidence on the ball suggested that he was made to play in the Premier League. Although not a regular starter, Oxford continued to be a part of the first team set up under Slaven Bilic and made a handful of appearances, in midfield and in defence, that season earning him the prestigious accolade of Young Hammer of the Year.

After this promising breakthrough season Oxford naturally gained some admirers from other Premier League sides, Manchester United reportedly being one, but he chose to stay at the Hammers signing a new contract on his 18th birthday in December 2016. This was of course a turbulent season at the club in our first season at the London Stadium. We suffered many heavy defeats, especially at home but Oxford was absent for much of the campaign after going on loan to Reading.

Many Hammers fans were disappointed to see the versatile young player leave on loan, but the prospect of him learning under one of the Premier League's great defenders at Reading, Jaap Stam, prompted excitement from many. Ultimately though Oxford failed to break into the team and his playing time was limited, making just five appearances for the Royals. He even received criticism from manager Stam for his level of fitness upon joining the club, as well as for his poor attitude.

Embed from Getty Images

With this unsuccessful loan spell behind him Oxford began the 2017/18 season on loan at Borussia M?nchengladbach in the Bundesliga. Unfortunately it was a similar story there, playing time was limited and he struggled to really make his mark. Our fortunes were in a similar state; after a poor start to the season where defensive frailties remained Slaven Bilic was sacked and David Moyes was brought in to steady the ship.

Moyes called Oxford back from his loan in December to asses his ability and judge if he could add anything to a side that was struggling in all departments. Hammers fans were excited at the prospect of Oxford getting a run in the side under a new manager, however he picked up an injury in training and was swiftly sent back to Germany without making an appearance.

It was reported that Borussia M?nchengladbach were interested in signing Oxford after his loan spell, but the club were reluctant to sell. Like us fans, the club recognises Oxford's potential. But how long will we have to wait to see this potential fulfilled?

Embed from Getty Images

In our opening two games of the season it has quickly become clear that the defensive frailties that have plagued us for the last two years remain. While Lucasz Fabianski looks to have brought some stability in goal, the same cannot be said for the new defensive partnership of Angelo Ogbonna and Fabian Balbuena.

Summer signing Issa Diop is yet to be given a chance under Pellegrini, but with the departure of James Collins last summer and the injury to Winston Reid, it would surely seem that the opportunity is there for Oxford to take.

The same can be said for the midfield this season. Wilshere and Noble have struggled to gel in the centre of midfield and it seems clear that we need a defensive midfielder to help these two out. Pellegrini signed Carlos Sanchez on the final day of the window presumably to solve this problem but I'm sure most West Ham fans would love to see Oxford make this position his own.

Embed from Getty Images

This week Oxford has committed his future to West Ham (perhaps after sensing there may be opportunities for him after poor performances from others) and has started this season captaining the Under 23s, most notably in a victory over Tottenham.

This season's Arsenal away fixture on Saturday may be too soon for Oxford to recreate his form from three years ago, but who knows whst the future holds? Perhaps Wimbledon in the Carabao Cup on Tuesday may be the perfect opportunity for our young talent to make his mark under Pellegrini and kick on to have a successful season.

* Like to share your thoughts on this article? Please visit the KUMB Forum to leave a comment.

More Opinion