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Reece Oxford’s loan is extremely disappointing

On 2 July 2015 at Upton Park, Reece Oxford became West Ham’s youngest ever player when Slaven Bilic named the 16-year old in his first starting lineup in the Europa League qualifier against Andorran side Lusitanos. The English centerback started in two more qualifiers before the Premier League season was set to kick-off and he was expected to play a role in Bilic’s squad, albeit a small one.

To the surprise of fans across the league, Oxford was named in the starting lineup for matchday one at the Emirates Stadium against Champions League regulars Arsenal. The second youngest Premier League starter ever impressed as the Hammers pulled off a surprise 2-0 victory and the youngster appeared set for stardom.

Fast-forward two summers and Premier League fans have seemingly forgot about Oxford, as his last West Ham appearance was in an August 2016 Europa League qualifier and his last league appearance came in April 2016 against West Brom. The hype surrounding the now 18-year old on that day at the Emirates has almost completely evaporated. A five-game loan spell with Reading in the Championship was his only playing time last season, besides the Europa League, and he is now set to spend this season in Germany with Borussia Monchengladbach.

Oxford is sure to find playing time with the Bundesliga club as regular starter Andreas Christensen is returning to Chelsea after a two-year loan spell, but that doesn’t mean his loan isn’t disappointing. The 18-year old still has plenty of time to become a star with West Ham but the fact he couldn’t break into a struggling West Ham side is a little concerning. Perhaps his confidence has fallen and he needs consistent playing time to regain it. Fair enough. But the problem is most likely Slaven Bilic’s faith in an ageing defensive core.

All four of West Ham’s centerbacks are aged 28 or older, with José Fonte and James Collins aged 33. It is difficult to believe that a hungry 18-year old who was so good two seasons ago couldn’t push out players like Collins or Angelo Ogbonna. West Ham and Premier League fans alike should be hoping that Oxford’s loan does wonders for the 18-year old and he comes back to London ready to star and become an England international. But right now, his loan is nothing except a disappointment.