Reece Oxford could be an unlikely candidate to replace Pedro Obiang at West Ham, according to Football.London journalist Sam Inkersole.
The 27-year-old midfielder left east London on Wednesday to join Italian side Sassuolo, as confirmed by the club.
And despite being frozen out of Manuel Pellegrini’s plans in the recent past, Inkersole believes that 6’3″ Oxford [Transfermarkt] could be in line to fill the void left by Obiang’s departure.
Writing in a piece for Football.London, he said: “The other player is a bit of a wildcard – or maybe it isn’t come to think of it – Reece Oxford.
“The centre back is still at the club having not gone to China for the Premier League Asia Trophy and is currently training with the senior players in east London having been away with the U23s in Slovakia.
“Oxford is no stranger to playing in midfield, remember his debut against Arsenal as a 16-year-old? He played in defensive midfield that day and that was when he put his name in lights during the 2-0 victory at the Emirates.
“Having struggled since then to force his way into the plans of three successive managers in east London, could this be the break that Oxford needs? The fact he is still around and hasn’t been sold or loaned out yet by Pellegrini means there might be something there.”
This would certainly be a turn up for the books. Oxford didn’t make a single first team appearance for the Hammers last term, and spent the second half of the season out on loan at FC Augsburg in Germany. To be fair, the youngster did well on the continent, averaging 4.5 clearances and 1.5 tackles per match [Whoscored], but he operated predominantly as a centre back, and the prospect of him stepping into the breach of a Premier League midfield seems a long way off at the moment. That’s not to say that he isn’t talented enough to do so, but certainly, there has been something missing in his game since he burst onto the scene as a 16-year-old with a stellar debut against Arsenal. Oxford still has time to turn things around at West Ham, but whether Pellegrini will see fit to draft him in as a regular option in the first team, especially in a position that he is not particularly used to, remains to be seen.