West Ham United are set to secure the future of one of their brightest stars, The Daily Mail reports, with Reece Oxford set to end speculation on his future by penning a five-year deal.
It finally appears to be good news for West Ham fans concerned about the future of one of the most highly-rated youth products to emerge from the academy in years, with 17-year-old Oxford ready to commit his future to the Hammers.
Since making his Premier League debut with a fantastic display against Arsenal on the opening day of last season, West Ham fans have been extended to see more from the young teenager. However, Slaven Bilic has been very protective over his game time.
He remains highly-rated at the club though and could earn further opportunities upon his return from injury in late November, just in time for the club’s fixtures in the festive season as they look to battle away from the relegation spots.
Top clubs in the Premier League were eying Oxford, including both Manchester sides, and the Hammers were reported to have placed an £18m price-tag on the player after his starring performances for England’s U19’s side in the summer’s European Championships.
There was also interest from the continent, with Bundesliga newcomers RB Leipzig offering the teenager a deal this summer. A move to Germany would have been a massive surprise for the teenager though, who would have been expected to remain in England.
Whilst the three clubs above were named, interest in the player’s services would have likely risen further if there was indication the young talent could move away from the London Stadium.
It’s certainly the best decision for Reece Oxford to make who, at 17, need to continue his development in familiar surroundings. Whilst he’s desperate to earn more first-team opportunities, the Hammers are right to be cautious and not to thrust him into the limelight regularly.
If Oxford remains patient, more first-team chances will follow and he’s certainly likely to get more action at West Ham than he would with either of the Manchester sides. The crucial aspect though is that this doesn’t rule out a high-profile move for him in the future, so he still has plenty of paths ahead of him for the rest of his career.
Slaven Bilic’s bold move to keep Oxford’s action limited thus far has certainly been the right call but it could hurt the Hammers in the long run if the teenager remains frustrated. Given the club’s woeful form this season, they need all the help they can get.
Young players with world-class potential and a British passport are few and far between, so it’s crucial that West Ham manage the player correctly. So far though, you could argue that the Hammers have played things safe a bit too much.
After all, this is a player who had Mesut Ozil in his pocket before he had even picked up his GCSE results.