Teenage West Ham centre-half Reece Oxford is reportedly being scouted constantly by Arsenal, although the Gunners face competition for the signature of a player dubbed ‘the new Rio Ferdinand’ from Chelsea, according to various media sources.
After robbing England Under-16 midfielder Ben Sheaf from the Irons over the summer, the north Londoners, who are 9/4 to top Champions League Group D after beating Galatasaray 4-1, seem to be shaping for a return to the West Ham well with a move for Oxford.
However, they may have to see off the advances of Chelsea, the joint third-favourites for Europe’s biggest prize at 6/1 following their crucial away win over Sporting in Group G.
The Blues are also thought to be tracking Oxford, who captained England Under-17s during the summer in Denmark’s Nordic Tournament.
West Ham are loathe to lose another academy talent after allowing Sheaf to use the Boleyn Ground exit door in exchange for a paltry compensation fee in July.
Sam Allardyce is desperate to tie Oxford down to a long-term deal in the east end, but the pugnacious gaffer will struggle to achieve such a feat with the youngster’s star clearly on the ascent.
At just 15-years-old, the precocious 6ft3in centre-half made the bench for West Ham’s 1-1 draw at home to Sheffield United in the Capital One Cup, when Allardyce’s side eventually exited the competition via an unsuccessful penalty shoot-out.
If Oxford does feature for the Irons this season he will smash the club’s youngest ever player record currently held by goalkeeper Neil Finn, who turned out for West Ham in 1996 aged 17 years and two days.
Such a debut is not beyond the realms of possibility, as Big Sam’s boys’ decent start to the season has not come about thanks to a flurry of clean-sheets, with none kept in seven all-competition 2014/15 fixtures.
You can have 29/20 that West Ham number one Adrian posts a first shutout of the term at home to QPR in their next Premier League outing.