Arsene Wenger

Arsenal have reportedly been keeping close tabs on West Ham United's 15-year-old defender Reece Oxford.

According to the Mirror, Arsene Wenger had the player watched again recently when he featured for the Hammers' U21 encounter against Sunderland.

Despite being only 15, Oxford captained the England U17 team at a tournament in Denmark recently and is touted to follow in the footsteps of Manchester United legend Rio Ferdinand.

Apart from Arsenal, London rivals Chelsea have also shown interest in signing the young defender, but West Ham are reluctant and will fight hard to convince him to remain at Upton Park.

The east London club are said to have offered him a bumper new contract to try and convince him to snub the big London clubs and stay with the Hammers for the foreseeable future.

West Ham joint-chairman Davis Sullivan has urged the player to remain at the club and continue his football education at Upton Park. He also feels that running an academy is pointless if big clubs can just come and snap up the best young talents at the club.

"It almost makes you give up on having an academy if they can come in and nick your best 15-year-old. What's the point?" Sullivan said, as quoted in the Mirror.

"I would say to any young player at West Ham to stay. Our track record over a 20-year period of producing players is as good as any club.

"Maybe with the exception of Southampton in recent years, not many come through from the Arsenal academy these days," the Hammers joint-chairman added.

Arsenal recently raided West Ham's academy and snapped up Ben Sheaf. The 16-year-old is regarded as one of the best young midfielders in the country.