By Matt Farr
West Ham have confirmed that young striker Toni Martinez has joined Oxford United on loan until the end of the season.
The 19-year-old has lit up the Under-23 league this season, netting an impressive 12 goals from 13 competitive games, and has been presented with the opportunity to showcase his talents in a first-team environment.
Martinez could make his first appearance for the League Two side when they take on Newcastle in the FA Cup fourth round on Saturday.
West Ham announced the deal on their official Twitter account on Monday afternoon.
We can confirm that U23 forward Toni Martinez has joined @OUFCOfficial on a loan for the remainder of the season
— West Ham United (@WestHam) January 23, 2017
With West Ham struggling for goals earlier in the season, certain groups of Hammers fans were alerted to Martinez’s blistering form for the reserve side and urged the management to give him a chance in the first-team.
He had recently been promoted to first-team training, after impressing Slaven Bilic, but did not make the matchday squad for their clash with Middlesbrough on Saturday as Bilic opted to name flop Jonathan Calleri instead.
It is not exactly where the West Ham faithful had in mind, but they will no doubt be pleased to see him get the opportunity to continue his development with Oxford, before returning to east London in the summer.
Martinez signed for the Hammers from Valencia back in April for £2.4million.
Football Insider verdict
Martinez certainly deserved a shot in the West Ham first-team, but his chances were likely quashed by Andy Carroll’s recent goalscoring form. The Hammers looked devoid of answers in front of goal, having tried the likes of Jonathan Calleri and Simone Zaza, and his form for the reserve side did not go unnoticed. However, a move to Oxford will do much more than a brief first-team stint at the Olympic Stadium ever could have done between now and the end of the season. He will no doubt thrive in the first-team environment at the League One outfit, and could hopefully do well enough to come back and play a role in the senior squad at West Ham next season.
In other West Ham transfer news, the Hammers are reportedly in a three-way tussle to land this £13million-rated midfielder.