Reece Oxford’s departure from West Ham United, which was confirmed earlier this week, was one that plenty of people in football saw coming.
In recent years the 20-year-old has embarked upon one of the most depressing falls from grace in English football, with the huge potential flashed earlier in his career giving way to endless attitude problems and lack of application.
With that said, it shouldn’t have come as a surprise to anyone to see him join a struggling Bundesliga club in Augsburg recently. However, that statement clearly doesn’t apply to former England international Darren Bent.
“In two years’ time, for you to have the world as your oyster with a choice of where you wanted to go to no one wanting you, it’s really, really surprising. I can’t understand it,” he told Football Insider.
When you look at the bare facts, then you could maybe make a case for seeing where Bent is coming from, here. However, those same facts are where Bent’s statement comes unstuck a bit.
It was four years ago, in 2015, when Oxford made his debut against Arsenal in a Man of the Match performance and shot to stardom, attracting the interest of some of English football’s biggest clubs. Not, obviously, two years ago, as Bent says.
Since making seven Premier League appearances in that breakthrough campaign, Oxford has made just a further one league showing for the Hammers – although he did make eight appearances in a loan spell with Borussia Monchengladbach in 2017/18 and another nine with Augsburg last term [Source: Transfermarkt].
Slaven Bilic was the manager who pushed Oxford from the academy through to the first team. But since then, neither David Moyes nor Manuel Pellegrini – both open-minded chaps – have given him so much of a sniff of regular football. That tells you all you need to know about the youngster.
With that tangible lack of progress in the years since his league debut highlighting Oxford’s dramatic fall from grace, Bent is surely the only one left baffled by his departure from the London Stadium.