This week the German media has been reporting that Borussia Mönchengladbach are in advanced talks with West Ham over the permanent transfer of Reece Oxford, who has been on loan at the club since the summer.
The Bundesliga side are believed to be preparing a €6.2 million transfer for the versatile 19-year-old, with West Ham ready to lower their original valuation of €8 million, according to the German newspaper Bild.
Oxford is said to be getting used to life in Germany and a successful month of December saw him break into the first team for the first time. He has had to be patient, making just one substitute appearance in the side’s first fifteen league games. This had even led to reports that Oxford was on the verge of returning to West Ham.
But, to the teenager’s great credit, he has remained diligent, and was rewarded by starting each of Gladbach’s final three matches before the winter break. His versatility has again proven an asset, ably taking on the vacant right-back role in the 1-0 defeat to Freiburg, before keeping his place in the team for the next two matches, a 3-1 league win over Hamburg and a 1-0 loss to Bayer Leverkusen in the German Cup. On both occasions he started in defensive midfield as a replacement for the injured Christoph Kramer.
Oxford seems happy with life at Gladbach, who are currently 6th in the Bundesliga. The England U-20 international told Bild: “At the beginning it was hard to be patient, because as a young player you always want to be out on the pitch. But most recently it’s been going better for me. I feel very happy here. The coach has explained a lot to me and said that he trust me a lot here.”
The club appears happy with him too, with Bild reporting a keenness to seal a permanent move as soon as possible. Gladbach’s Sporting Director Max Eberl told the newspaper: “Discussions are taking place. It’s our aim to keep Reece with us for as long as possible. And Reece has assured us that he’s very happy here.”
New West Ham manager David Moyes is apparently keen to cash in on some of the club’s assets, including the teenager, to help fund at least three new January signings.
The valuation and timing of the potential transfer is questionable. West Ham have a slow and ageing defence, and all of their senior centre-backs struggle to distribute the ball effectively. Oxford’s skillset is probably needed in the West Ham back-line. And with a year’s experience in a professional league abroad, Moyes could look forward to him returning as a much better player.
In addition, with the Hammers reportedly ready to meet Swansea’s £25 million valuation of Alfie Mawson, lowering an already generous asking price to around the £6 million mark doesn’t instantly strike you as a clever piece of business. Slaven Bilic was said to have been a big fan of Oxford behind the scenes. Perhaps Moyes isn’t interested in him.
It will be interesting to see how this transfer story unfolds over the next few weeks. It would be a shame to see Reece go, given the clear potential he has, especially if we’re willing to pay four times the amount to replace him. If he’s trusted with game time in midfield in a team just two points off second place in the Bundesliga, I don’t see how he couldn’t compete for a spot in our threadbare midfield or static centre of defence, where we are crying out for a player like Oxford who has the ability to pass and screen the back four.