One of the biggest issues facing West Ham United manager Manuel Pellegrini this summer is what to do with the centre of midfield.
He had only three central midfielders he could rely on this season, Declan Rice, Mark Noble and Pedro Obiang, and the latter’s future is hugely uncertain.
Something different is needed at the London Stadium, but perhaps the answer is a little closer to home than Pellegrini first thought. Maybe, in fact, the man he wants is youngster Josh Cullen.
The 23-year-old has just returned to east London after a phenomenal season on loan at Charlton Athletic, who he helped secure promotion back to the Championship. He was a key contributor all campaign long for the Addicks and made unquestionable progress under Lee Bowyer’s tutelage.
Can he make the step up to Premier League level, though? That’s a tough question, but if his adaptation to the international scene is anything to go by then he’s certainly got the potential to handle the increase in quality.
Cullen was recently called up by Republic of Ireland manager Mick McCarthy, and Premier League veteran Seamus Coleman has been hugely impressed by his compatriot while on international duty with him.
“He’s been different class,” he said, as per Claret & Hugh. “He is just very brave, wants to get the ball back and pass it forward, he has been impressive and he’s a great lad around the camp as well. Hopefully he can go back to West Ham and play there too.”
Despite his many years in east London, Cullen has made just nine appearances for the Hammers. He’s been loaned out ad nauseam, but this is the summer where he either needs to kick on or be let go.
However, given the tremendous progress he made at The Valley, and the sterling recommendation given him by a man who knows a thing or two about top flight football in Coleman, perhaps know is the time Pellegrini needs to put his faith in him once and for all.