Fulham Opinion: Reece Oxford could add a lot of depth and youthful exuberance to the Cottagers’ backline
According to Sky Sports, Fulham have been credited with an interest in wantaway West Ham starlet Reece Oxford, with reports claiming that the Cottagers are keen to offer the 20-year-old an escape route.
Fulham are not the only club to have registered an interest in Oxford though, with Sky Sports claiming that West Ham have held talks with Bundesliga strugglers Augsburg over a £2.7 million deal. Fellow Championship outfit Swansea City are also very much in the race to sign the highly-rated defender.
Oxford spent the second half of this past season on loan at Augsburg in Germany and made 8 appearances, as the Bundesliga outfit finished 15th and managed to steer themselves away from the relegation playoff spots. Prior to that, Oxford also had a couple of loan spells with Borussia Monchengladbach in the 2017-18 season.
The 20-year-old England U-20 international made the headlines in the tabloids back in the 2015-16 season when he made his senior professional debut for the Hammers in the qualifying rounds of the Europa League as a 16-year-old, becoming the club’s youngest ever player in the process.
Oxford enjoyed considerable involvement in the 2015-16 campaign and also made a handful of appearances in the Premier League but he has slipped down the pecking order at the club ever since.
The centre-back has made only 17 appearances for the Hammers in all competitions till date, whilst also spending time on loan at Reading, Borussia Monchengladbach and Augsburg. Now, as it seems, he is not in manager Manuel Pellegrini’s plans for the upcoming Premier League season and the East Londoners are keen to get him off their books.
To put things into perspective, Reece Oxford’s involvement at West Ham has waned but he continues to be a highly-rated prospect and one should not forget that he is still only 20.
Fulham and Swansea City are both very ambitious clubs and a move to either of the Championship promotion-hopefuls would be in the best interests of his development. However, Fulham would bag a massive coup if they manage to fend off interest from Swansea and Augsburg in the race to sign the talented defender.
Fulham are yet to flex their muscles in the transfer window this summer following a season of heavy spending in the Premier League, with the Cottagers currently under pressure to cut down their wage bill and balance the books.
The West London outfit is expected to lose the services of several of their high-profile players after getting relegated from the Premier League and they would probably need to look at alternatives for the upcoming campaign.
The Cottagers finished this past season with one of the worst defensive records across the top five leagues in Europe and while a return to the Championship should make things easier for their porous and vulnerable backline, Fulham should not hesitate to bring in fresh faces to increase competition for places at the back.
Last season’s loanees Timothy Fosu-Mensah, Calum Chambers and Havard Nordtveit have all returned to their parent clubs, although the likes of Maxime Le Marchand, Alfie Mawson, Tim Ream and Denis Odoi are expected to be a part of Fulham promotion push next term.
They apparently have good competition for places at the Championship level, however, Reece Oxford could possibly add that youthful exuberance and dynamism to their options at the heart of the defence.
A modern-day ball-playing centre-back, Oxford has also been used in a defensive midfield role due to his proficiency in carrying the ball forward and passing it around effortlessly to switch the play.
To add to that, he is really very quick and agile for a defender who stands at 6ft. 3 inches, meaning that Oxford has all the raw attributes to make a name for himself in English football.
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With the riches of the Premier League no longer on offer, Fulham should now turn their attention to players who represent good value for money.
Oxford is certainly one of those and it should be a no-brainer for the Cottagers to snap him up this summer, as Parker prepares to get Fulham back to the Premier League at the first time of asking.