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Cullen must be given chance once Obiang departs

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OPINION

It very much seems as if West Ham United midfielder Pedro Obiang is heading for the London Stadium exit door, which begs the question of who will be his successor in east London?

Italian outlet Gianluca Di Marzio reported on Tuesday that the 27-year-old has arrived in ready for a medical before sealing a return to the peninsula with Serie A side Sassuolo.

As mentioned, the question, once that exit happens, is who will fill his spot as the back up defensive midfielder to Hammers starlet Declan Rice?

One man who could come into the breach is Rice’s fellow West Ham academy product Josh Cullen. The 23-year-old, it’s true, is far more polarising than the international, with some people wanting to give him a chance and others claiming he’s not good enough for Premier League level football.

However, once the Equatorial Guinea international departs, which looks a near certainty at this point, Cullen must be given a bigger role next season.

Look, he’s not Rice and never will be, but that’s not the role he’d be filling. The youngster would only need to come in for the 20-year-old if he picked up an injury, suspension and perhaps late in games when need some reinforcing in the middle of the park.

Unless the unthinkable happens and Rice goes down with a serious setback, it’s unlikely that Cullen would play much at all next term, certainly not more than the odd Premier League start.

The alternative, of course, is to give the job to 33-year-old Carlos Sanchez, who is coming off a serious injury. Now, I bet if you asked supporters, they’d much rather Cullen was given an opportunity.

He played 35 games for League One side Charlton Athletic last season as he helped them win back to the Championship, scoring two goals and bagging seven assists [Source: Transfermarkt].

So it’s clear he’s got potential, he just hasn’t been given a chance at first team level yet. With Obiang set to depart, he should be given the position of Rice’s deputy.

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