For the last five seasons, West Ham’s Cullen has received chances to impress in pre-season but to no avail, this time could be different.
Josh Cullen is returning to West Ham from a second season on loan at Charlton Atheltic where he has been impressive. In the 2019/20 campaign, the Irish midfielder played thirty-four times scoring two goals and assisting a further one.
Goal contribution is not Cullen’s primary asset; however, the midfielder is a good defender and has a brilliant work-rate. According to Whoscored.com Cullen averaged two tackles, 1.3 interceptions and 1.4 clearances last season, Cullen was surprisingly better than Captain Mark Noble defensively in every department.
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Noble’s age is one reason why Cullen could stay and earn his spot at West Ham next season. The thirty-three-year-old has declined over the past couple of seasons has impacted the club, and they have struggled to play without him. Cullen knows the club, as well as Noble, and his playing style is much the same as the current Captain, meaning he could be the perfect replacement.
Nobel is also being rumoured to be debating his future and could be thinking about retirement. Cullen’s playstyle would mean he would be a very good option to replace the Noble in the squad should he decide to hang up the boots. If Noble does make that decision, Cullen needs to be in the team to adapt as best as possible.
The club’s current lack of strength in the transfer market must be good news for the 24-year-old. Each season when Cullen believes he will get a chance the Hammer’s have brought in a central-midfielder which has forced him out.
Whether it is Jack Wilshere, Pedro Obiang or Alex Song, West Ham does not look likely to sign a similar player to Cullen which could present him with an opening. This opening could widen should players like Manuel Lanzini, Wilshere join Carlos Sanchez in leaving the club.
Now 24-years-old Cullen is no longer a youth prospect, now is make-or-break time for the Irishman. If Cullen fails to impress this summer, he will never make it at West Ham and will be more useful if sold to contribute to the club’s low transfer budget.