When West Ham United made the decision to send young midfielder Josh Cullen back out on loan to Charlton Athletic this summer, it was seen as an indication that his time at the club was over.
Reliable Hammers news source Claret & Hugh reported earlier this month that the 23-year-old’s current contract expires at the end of the season, meaning his second consecutive campaign at The Valley was viewed as the end of the road for him in east London.
However, Irons boss Manuel Pellegrini threw a bit of a curve ball at his pre match press conference on Thursday with his comments on Cullen and his fellow West Ham youngsters.
“Maybe we will see what happens in the future but there is him [Nathan Holland], Conor Coventry, Grady Diangana and Josh Cullen that are at different clubs, I am absolutely sure all four of them will be the future of West Ham,” he said, as per Football London.
Pellegrini claiming that Cullen is one of four players who will be the future of the club is essentially confirming that he will be handed a new deal at some point this season.
That is absolutely tremendous news because, not only has the Republic of Ireland international been outstanding for Charlton this campaign, but he plays in a position of real need for Pellegrini’s side, as well.
There’s a major lack of depth for the Hammers in central midfield at the moment, while captain Mark Noble can’t go on forever. Beyond him and his fellow starter Declan Rice, though, there’s only veteran flop Carlos Sanchez and the aforementioned Coventry, who is way behind Cullen in his development.
The latter, though, has shown in the Championship this season that he might have the ability to make the step up to Premier League level. As per WhoScored.com, the youngster is currently averaging 1.9 tackles, one interception and 1.6 clearances per game.
Meanwhile, he has bagged an assist, as well as making 1.6 key passes an outing on average. He is also being fouled 2.2 times per game, showing that the opposition are really keen to shut him down any way they can. Cullen has also amassed an average pass success rate of 83% from 47.1 passes a game.
Clearly he has real ability and is a genuine all-round midfielder. It looked like his time at the London Stadium might be over, but it now appears that Pellegrini has breathed new life into Cullen’s West Ham career.