Manchester United, Arsenal and Liverpool's hopes of securing the services of Reece Oxford have been dealt a fatal blow after it emerged the talented teenager is on the verge of signing a long-term contract with West Ham United.
According to the Daily Mail, the 16-year-old centre-back - who has been likened in playing style to fellow Hammers academy product Rio Ferdinand - is ready to commit his future to Upton Park in a surprising show of loyalty that is rarely seen in the Premier League these days.
Oxford has attracted admiring glances after a series of impressive performances for the West Ham development sides, and was even named on the first-team bench by Sam Allardyce in September's Capital One Cup defeat against Sheffield United.
It's a sign of how highly rated the youngster is that Louis van Gaal, Arsene Wenger and Brendan Rodgers have all been monitoring his progress in east London, and the fact that each of them held a genuine interest in taking Oxford to Old Trafford, the Emirates Stadium or Anfield before the arrival of his next birthday.
The England U17 international captain is widely perceived as one of the brightest talents emerging in the game, so West Ham should regard the retaining of his services as a major transfer coup.
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Oxford could've departed for a nominal fee in the summer, with his current youth contract set to expire at the end of the season. But, after a breakthrough in negotiations which have been ongoing for several weeks, it looks as though the defender is happy to put pen to paper on a new deal.
The news will be welcomed by West Ham supporters that are preparing for the departure of Winston Reid, after the club failed to convince the New Zealand international to sign a contract extension.
Reid has now entered the final six months of his existing deal, and despite being the subject of plenty of speculation in the mid-season window, it's anticipated that he'll leave the Boleyn on a Bosman free transfer at the end of the campaign.
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