By Will Butcher
Reading have moved ahead of Nottingham Forest in a bid to sign West Ham teenager Reece Oxford, according to a report.
The Mirror claimed on Monday that Forest had seen off competition from Rangers and Brentford to land the teenage sensation, but it now appears Reading are winning the race.
The Daily Mail claimed in their transfer news blog (January 31, 8.48am) that Reading will pay all of Oxford’s £10,000-a-week wages and is set to move on loan until the end of the season.
Oxford has been allowed to leave the London Stadium on loan following the Hammers signing of veteran Premier League stopper Jose Fonte from Southampton.
With Fonte, the Hammers have James Collins, Winston Reid and Angela Ogbonna at centre-back, leaving Oxford with little chance of breaking into the side.
The 18-year-old, who can also play in central midfield, has just returned from a long-term ankle injury and is expected to complete a move before the 11pm cut-off point on deadline day.
Reading have already completed the signing of Liverpool’s Tiago Ilori this month for £3.75million, and are now set to add Oxford as they look to boost their promotion hunt.
Since his magnificent debut against Arsenal for the Hammers at the start of the 2015-16 campaign, Oxford has found appearances few and far between, making 16 in total.
Football Insider verdict:
England youth international Oxford will benefit from joining Jaap Stam’s side over Forest, with the two-time European Cup champions expected to enter a relegation dog fight from the Championship. Signing for Reading, who sit in third in the Championship, will allow Oxford to show what he can do either in defence or in midfield. With Stam’s side known for their desire to play attractive football at the Madjeski Stadium, Oxford’s ability to keep possession could benefit the Royals in their pursuit of gaining a return to the Premier League for the first time since their relegation to the Championship in 2012-13.
In other West Ham transfer news, Bilic has been given this emphatic answer in his chase to sign Chelsea playmaker Cesc Fabregas.