West Ham have endured a rollercoaster summer this window, with the Hammers initially criticised for their lack of movement on the market and the decision to send Reece Oxford on-loan to Borussia Monchengladbach, as many felt he could be an asset in the first-team.
That scenario has swiftly changed as Slaven Bilic’s side have made waves with the additions of Joe Hart, Marko Arnautovic and Javier Hernandez, with the trio joining fellow new recruit Pablo Zabaleta in East London.
Those additions have significantly bolstered West Ham’s first-team line-up and it leaves the Hammers with a very competitive squad for the new season. Whilst there will be eyes on their defensive line, following the struggles last season, Slaven Bilic seems content with his options.
Another loan move approved yesterday saw young Oliver Burke move to Bolton Wanderers for the next five months, alongside fellow youngster Josh Cullen. Again, fans may question the decision to allow an asset to leave who would be useful in the first-team but the move could work wonders when you look between the lines.
It’s highly unlikely that West Ham would start the season with Burke playing in central defence and the 20-year-old would probably have to wait until the Hammers entered the League Cup for any game-time; and an early exit would drastically reduce his opportunities.
At Bolton, Burke is likely to go straight into the first-team and can enjoy a run of games, allowing him to build on his experience and prepare for a return to West Ham. Crucially, the fact that he’s initially moved for five months means that he could still be used by Bilic in the second-half of the season.
In five months time, Bilic will have more of an understanding as to where his defence stands and whether Burke is the right man to move into the defensive set-up. If they get to a stage where changes are needed, Burke’s experience with Bolton will prove to be invaluable as he won’t be playing catch-up with his fitness or playing time.
On the flip-side, West Ham will have an avenue to extend Burke’s loan spell if things are going well and there’s not an opportunity for football with the Hammers, whilst they could end the deal in five months if things aren’t working out the way they wanted.