When Robert Snodgrass was sent out on loan to Aston Villa it looked like he was a player destined never to return to West Ham. But that same player cast aside by Bilic is now seen as an integral member of our team, starting 25 games with a further eight substitute appearances.
Robert, I suspect, is an exception to the norm to players who head away from West Ham on loan. Gone are the days, Robert aside, where our players return from a loan spell and go on to enjoy a career in the claret and blue.
But what of the current crop of West Ham players that have been out of loan during our last campaign – will we see any of them next season? First up is a player that really should never have gone on loan – well, that’s what many thought after his magnificent debut back in August 2015 when he had Mesut Ozil in his pocket in a great West Ham 2-0 win.
The future looked bright for Reece Oxford but then the wheels came off and that elusive regular first team place disappeared as quickly as the extra money he earned from his new contract. A succession of loan deals has seen Oxford end up at German side Augsburg where he has played just five times in all competitions.
Unfortunately Augsburg have flirted with relegation for most of the season but with their Bundesliga future assured with a few games to go, they had seen enough it seems to offer Oxford a permanent move. Sadly he will not be missed and I feel that he is a player West Ham will be glad to cash in on.
Next up is Sam Byram. Like Reece Oxford, he had a great debut coming in for an injured Carl Jenkinson against Manchester City and certainly held his own. He looked like a fantastic prospect but sadly that early form didn’t continue and this season he has found himself out on loan at Nottingham Forest.
Once again, like Oxford, the loan spell has not gone well for our Sam who has made just eight appearances in all competitions – clearly the form he had shown previously in the Championship when playing for Leeds has not continued. So does Sam Byram have a future at West Ham? I think not as this is yet another loan spell that hasn’t really worked out for the player.
How about the oldest of the group Jordan Hugill? Jordan was signed from Preston North End when we were simply desperate for a transfer window signing. It all seemed a bit odd until it was identified that his agent was the brother of our then manager David Moyes.
Hugill failed to impress in the claret and blue and found himself on loan to his home town club Middlesbrough who just missed out on play off action. Hugill played 47 times for Middlesbrough scoring seven goals, not a great return, and certainly not one that would make our manager take a second look.
Although Hugill will probably never put a West Ham shirt on again, he will probably continue to have a good career in the Championship and no doubt will tell his grandchildren one day that he was a Premier League player.
So that’s three down and seven more to go. Moses Makasi played just 10 times all season at Stevenage and at 23 years of age it seems a career in the claret and blue looks like a thing of the past.
The same thing can probably be said of Oladapo Afolyan. He signed for the Hammers from Solihull Moors where he scored a goal every third game, not a bad return. But in 10 loan appearances at Oldham he seemed to have left his shooting boots back in Birmingham. Sadly he is another player again who will probably be moved on.
Then there’s Martin Samuelson who signed for the club way back in 2015 yet has made just two Europa League appearances. He has spent the season on loan at Norwegian-side Haugesund. This next preseason will be the ultimate decider for Samuelson but if there is a team in Norway keen for his signature I think his days in the east end are over.
Next up is a player who played in our pre-season friendly against Aston Villa and looked pretty good and many thought would feature this season but instead Sead Haksabanovic found himself on loan at IFK Norrkoping in Sweden. With the Swedish season not due to end until November, it seems that we won’t see him in a West Ham shirt for a while. But he is a player at just 20 years of age who just might come back the better player.
Then there is Tony Martinez, a player that has been plying his wears in the Spanish second division at Lugo where he has appeared 11 times and scored a few goals. But he has never quite made his mark at West Ham and a suggestion of loan moves in the lower divisions have shown he is a good player but maybe not Premier League standard. At the age of 21 and now back in Spain, I feel his time at West Ham is at an end.
So what of our final two loanees, surely there is a diamond amongst them? Well just maybe. It was a little surprising to see both Josh Cullen and Edimilson Fernandes both go out on loan this year, after all both had shown clear promise.
Edimilson has been a regular in the Fiorentina side. The loan spell has been a success and with an option to buy as part of the loan he might just have played his last game for the Hammers.
Here’s hoping he comes back as he is a player that just might have a future at the Hammers. And what of Josh Cullen, the only bright spark in our awful FA Cup away game at Shrewsbury a year or so ago when the player battened through losing teeth to put in a shift for the Hammers. Josh had a successful loan spell at Charlton after also having a similar spell at Bradford.
There were two players rumoured to have surprised Manuel Pellegrini last pre-season, which brings us full circle as one was Robert Snodgrass and the other was Josh Cullen. Could this summer be his year? I guess we will have to see.