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Betway Cup: Bought and nurtured talent can inspire West Ham

31 Jul | BY Betway | MIN READ TIME |
Betway Cup: Bought and nurtured talent can inspire West Ham

Dimitri Payet could be a star of the Premier League, while the emergence of 16-year-old Reece Oxford is also cause for excitement

The Betway Insider was always going to champion the inaugural Betway Cup, but it is not merely self-promotion to suggest Sunday’s fixture has taken on extra significance following West Ham’s frustrating Europa League performance on Thursday.

Just a week before their final domestic season at Upton Park gets under way against Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium, Hammers boss Slaven Bilic has much to consider after seeing his side concede two away goals in the 2-2 draw against the Romanian side Astra Giurgiu.

Enner Valencia (knee) and Joey O’Brien (hamstring) were both forced off in that match due to injury, so the fixture against German side Werder Bremen enables Bilic to explore possible alternatives ahead of next week’s second leg.

The appointment of a new manager coupled with the club having to navigate the Europa League qualifying rounds – their first match this season took place just 40 days after last season’s Premier League campaign ended – was always going to cause obstacles, but there is plenty to look forward to.

The club has been active in the transfer market and Sunday’s match represents an opportunity for fans to further familiarise themselves with the new players.

It is the big-money signing of 28-year-old French international Dimitri Payet that has caused the most excitement. Quite rightly, too.

8/1 – Dimitri Payet to be Hammer of the year

If he is able to repeat – or come close to matching – his contribution of seven goals and 17 assists for Marseille last season, then Payet could be a star of the Premier League. His lively performances in pre-season and Thursday’s third qualifying round first leg are certainly encouraging.

Angelo Ogbonna, the 27-year-old Italian international defender who joined the club from Juventus, is another new addition. A member of their Champions League final squad and contributor to their previous two Serie A triumphs, he has the credentials and attributes to flourish in England.

Pedro Obiang, another signing from Italy’s top division, will be absent from Sunday’s game because of injury, but co-chairman David Gold revealed on Twitter that the 23-year-old Spanish midfielder, who arrived from Sampdoria, will return to training next week.

There is a sense of intrigue surrounding 22-year-old Argentinian playmaker Manuel Lanzini, who is on a season-long loan from Al Jazira but could eventually move permanently. Having become the youngest player to play in the UAE Arabian Gulf League last year, it will be interesting to see how the man nicknamed ‘the jewel’ handles the more robust and technically-superior English game.

While adoring a host of exciting foreign imports over the years, West Ham is also a club that has always cherished its own players. That is why the emergence of 16-year-old Reece Oxford, their youngest ever debutant, is so encouraging.

Not since Wayne Rooney has a player so young played regularly in the Premier League, so it would be speculative to predict how often Oxford, born in nearby Edmonton, will feature.

But the England Under-17 captain, who signed a long-term contract in January, has performed admirably in midfield this season – he is a defender by trade – and demonstrated a composure and calm temperament that suggests he is comfortable at the highest level.

It is imperative that too much pressure isn’t placed on a person who is not even old enough to drive a car. It would be entirely fitting, however, if a future star at the Olympic Stadium established himself at the place West Ham have called home for more than 100 years.

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