March 26, 2024

Is it reasonable to argue that if Declan Rice hadn’t come through the system, West Ham United would not have experienced the riches of the last several years under David Moyes’ guidance?


It’s true that Moyes would have received a new appointment in December 2019. Yes, there would have been progress made in terms of transfers, stabilizing a team that was ready for success but not quite fitting together, like attempting to fit different jigsaw pieces together to produce a whole picture.


David Moyes, the manager of West Ham

However, with multiple Player of the Season trophies in his locker, Rice called it quits on his Irons career. And, yeah, the Europa Conference League Player of the Season award, for his unwavering role in helping his London team win awards.


It hurt to see him go, especially since he chose to play for Arsenal, a team across the city, but it’s difficult to lament too much because Rice inspired a midfield and brought it to success.


Why Declan Rice was a huge hit for West Ham

By the time the 2022–23 season was over, even the most optimistic West Ham fans would have accepted Rice’s sale.


Declan Rice, representing Arsenal.

The Hammers’ managers undoubtedly pursued extensions at the London Stadium, but Rice believed his skill set was valuable enough to position him at the top of the European game. As a result, Arsenal was able to acquire him for £105 million, briefly making him the most expensive football player in British history.


It’s difficult to argue that West Ham didn’t succeed with Rice given his incredible comeback, but had he left for a pittance, his exploits as a United player would have solidified his place in the club’s annals of modern greats, with Jack Wilshere raving back in 2021 that “physically he’s a freak, and technically he can do anything that he wants.”


After graduating from the academy, he made 245 appearances for West Ham and became synonymous with the team’s comeback under manager David Moyes. He led the squad from the midfield position and dazzled with his high-energy, all-encompassing style of play.


Although Rice is the best of the best, in the beginning of his career, West Ham believed they had an even greater talent on their hands.


Though they believed otherwise, Reece Oxford ended up failing miserably on English soil.


Reasons for Reece Oxford’s failure at West Ham

After making his Premier League debut against Arsenal in the 2015–16 season opening at the Emirates Stadium as a 16-year-old, Oxford was one of the league’s hottest talents. West Ham emerged victorious.


Starting Lineup for West Ham in Reece Oxford’s Debut


West Ham 2, Arsenal 0 (August 9, 2015)


GK: Adrian


James Tomkins, RB


Winston Reid, CB


CB: Angelo Ogbonna


Aaron Cresswell, LB


DM – Oxford Reece


Mark Noble, CM


Cheikou Kouyate, CM


Dimitri Payet AM


Mauro Zarate, CF


Diafra Sakho, CF


obtained through Transfermarkt


Irons coach Slaven Bilic was amazed by the young player’s performance and said, “The boy has everything,” following the game. Everything. Let’s exercise justice. World-class players include Ramsey, Cazorla, and Ozil. It’s difficult to downplay their abilities. He will undoubtedly succeed if he keeps moving forward and keeps his feet planted.


After making six more Premier League appearances that year, Oxford has only made one appearance in the English top flight since. After going through a number of uninteresting loan stints with Reading and Borussia Monchengladbach, Oxford caught Augsburg’s attention. In 2018–19, the club made a temporary move before completing a permanent transfer for approximately £3 million with the German Bundesliga team.


Reece Oxford made his debut with West Ham.

With 80 games under his belt for the Fuggerstädter, the former England U20 international averages 13.3 features each season.


The market worth of Reece Oxford in 2024

Unfortunately, long-term Covid-related injuries and setbacks have hampered a once-promising career. Oxford has had some success in Germany, starting 30 Bundesliga games in 2021–2022, helping his team avoid the drop zone, but he has only made three appearances since the start of the previous campaign.


According to Football Transfers’ player valuation algorithm, the 25-year-old is presently valued at just £2 million, which puts him below Ben Johnson’s £4 million price tag.


Ben Johnson of West Ham

Although Johnson contributes to West Ham’s system, the 24-year-old full-back is arguably one of Moyes’ more disposable pieces given he has only started four Premier League games this year.


Oxford was expected to do well; in fact, at one point, he was thought to be a greater talent than Rice, even though his market value never increased dramatically.


In fact, a thoughtful Bilic claimed that the talk about Oxford following his debut helped him establish himself as one of the most exciting prodigies in the Premier League these days, as well as West Ham’s best promise. The world was at his feet, and he had it all.


According to Bilic, “he was a little under the radar, which helped him.” “When I first moved to West Ham a few years ago, there was never a day that went by that I didn’t hear about Reece Oxford becoming the next big thing.”


“You can imagine the hype when we defeated Arsenal 2-0 and Reece made his debut at age 16.” He was surrounded by people, had injuries, and perhaps lost some self-assurance and focus.


Dec’s was a whole other story. He might enter without the same anticipations. During pre-season in Germany, I recall seeing him with his parents as I strolled around the hotel. They had come to see him; we spoke, and they didn’t seem to be the kind that liked to make a big deal out of things. Such things don’t hurt a young player in any way.


West Ham’s Declan Rice in action.

It is evident that Rice took advantage of the easier path in those early years, practicing his profession wisely and advancing toward the forefront, because there was so much anticipation surrounding Oxford.


Even though West Ham’s £3 million transaction seems like a fair price in retrospect, things may have turned out very differently if Oxford had been tied to legendary partner Rice in east London. Unimaginable success would have been inevitable.


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