Declan Rice has been a huge success story at West Ham since he was properly integrated into the team by David Moyes, but his rise to prominence arrived around about the same time when many might have predicted Reece Oxford to break through.
Indeed, Oxford was tipped to blossom into a fantastic talent at West Ham when he impressed on his Premier League debut against Arsenal in 2015, but more than three years later he finds himself on the fringes of the senior squad.
Rice, on the other hand, has usurped Oxford as the club’s most promising talent to rise through the ranks and established himself as a vital component under Manuel Pellegrini.
Oxford’s lack of opportunities this season have prompted a series of reports linking him with a move away from the London Stadium in January, but a recent report from Sky Sports suggests that the player has made a u-turn in a bid to fight for his place at the club.
“He [Oxford] is now prepared to see out his contract until 2021 because of the politics surrounding the player and the way he has been portrayed.”
Well, that’s a turn of events which few would have predicted, but Oxford’s desire to see out his contract perhaps suggests that Pellegrini has offered some kind of assurances over his long-term future.
Either way, the indication is that Oxford has the self-belief and professional attitude to make himself a success at the club, regardless of how he has been perceived of late. The 20-year-old clearly has the technical talent and physical attributes to establish himself at the heart of West Ham’s defensive unit, but he needs a genuine opportunity to showcase his ability.
Rice was handed the right level of opportunities under Moyes and he took the chances afforded to him, giving his manager no choice but to continue utilising him in the senior squad.
Now he finds himself as a crucial member of the squad and a genuine fan-favourite – an example which both Oxford and Pellegrini must follow to facilitate the emergence of another Rice-esque success story in east London.
At just 20-years-old, Oxford still has huge scope for improvement and should be regarded as a future mainstay in West Ham’s defensive unit, and the fact he has decided to snub a loan move suggests Pellegrini could yet be the man to galvanise his career and help him to follow in Rice’s footsteps.
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