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Could West Ham's worst fears be realised as former wonderkid Reece Oxford shows signs he may fulfil his potential

West Ham United’s worst fears could be realised as former prodigy Reece Oxford starts to fulfil his undoubted potential.

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The world of football has many pitfalls for young players and, as the self-styled Academy, West Ham know that more than most.

Hammers fans have lost count of the number of exciting talents coming through the academy down the years who never end up fulfilling their potential in the first-team for one reason or another.

Labelled the ‘new Rio Ferdinand’ Reece Oxford went from one of the hottest prospects in European football to the Hammers scrapheap in the space of three seasons.

RONALDO NEEDS TO STOP WHINING.

Oxford’s is a cautionary tale for any young player looking to make their way in the Premier League.

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Hammers had high hopes for ‘new Rio’ after he pocketed Ozil on dazzling debut aged just 16

He shot to prominence when he made his debut with a midfield masterclass in a 2-0 win over Arsenal at the Emirates in the opening game of the 2015/16 season aged just 16.

Oxford starred as he pocketed Mesut Ozil and belied his tender years.

But he found game time hard to come by after losing his man twice in a 4-3 home defeat against Leicester City soon after. Apart from a couple of cameos in the Europa League qualifiers that was that for Oxford at West Ham.

A loan spell at Reading failed to work out and he was sent on loan to Borussia Monchengladbach in the Bundesliga.

Oxford slowly found his feet there but hardly set the world alight.

Linked with the likes of Manchester United, speculation was rife over the 6ft 5 centre back’s future for some time.

Talk was put to bed when the youngster signed a long term deal with the Hammers, which was expected to see him fast tracked into a West Ham regular with England aspirations.

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From future star to a relative unknown in Germany

But after being shipped out on loan to German side Augsburg, the writing was on the wall. And that move was made permanent for around £3.5million in the summer of 2019 (Sky Sports).

Fans will all have their own opinions on where things have gone wrong for Oxford.

Some felt West Ham did not give Oxford time to grow into the first team star he clearly had the potential to be.

Others blamed an alleged poor attitude, lack of focus and the youngster getting too much too soon for his Hammers exit.

Many feared Oxford may go on to fulfil that potential elsewhere.

Well now, just under 18 months after his departure from east London, West Ham’s fears may be coming true.

That’s because Oxford has showed a glimpse that the penny may finally have dropped.

Oxford has not had much game time for Augsburg since signing.

Photo by Daniel Kopatsch WHUFC West Ham United FC via Getty Images

West Ham’s fears realised as Oxford shows signs of fulfilling his huge potential?

He has played just 18 games. But it has been his last two performances that have caught the eye as Oxford starts to show he could be a real player.

Augsburg sit 10th in the Bundesliga. But they have only won two of their last nine games in all competitions.

The common theme in both? They were the only games Oxford started.

Playing as part of a back three, not only did Oxford start in wins over Cologne and Arminia – he was voted man of the match on both occasions.

And his pass completion stats were the highest in the German league on both occasions too as Augsburg kept rare clean sheets.

On one hand it could be argued it’s just two matches in an inferior league playing against two teams struggling near the bottom.

But Oxford, now 22, has filled out physically as well. His imposing frame now packs some muscle.

And if his game is coming together on the pitch it may not be long until West Ham start questioning their decision to let him go for a relatively low fee.

West Ham fans will certainly be keeping a keen eye on his progress.

And there will be no better test of that progress than games against Germany’s finest Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund later this month.

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