Reece Oxford would 'not be fazed by Lionel Messi', says West Ham boss Slaven Bilic after brilliant debut against Arsenal

16-year-old put on a midfield masterclass at the Emirates

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The Independent Football

West Ham prodigy Reece Oxford would not be fazed by Lionel Messi said his manager Slaven Bilic.

Only 16, the midfielder was absolutely excellent in his Premier League debut despite facing the might of Aaron Ramsey, Santi Cazorla and Mesut Ozil at the Emirates.

Oxford, a defensive midfielder, was a surprise inclusion by Bilic but became one of the most talked about players of the opening weekend, with Ozil especially drawing huge criticism for 'being in Oxford's pocket'.

At 16 years and 237 days he became West Ham's youngest player to play in the Premier League and the second-youngest player to start since the division was formed in 1992.


"If Messi was in front of me, I'd be more fazed than Reece," Bilic said after the victory.

The youth product, who signed a long-term deal to stay at the club in January finished with the best pass percentage in the match, a massive 95 per cent.

"People were asking: 'Are you sure he is 16?'," added Bilic.

"It was going to be a risk but he has got something. I am very proud of him. Only on paper he is 16. He is a part of this new generation."