West Ham’s plans to kick on in new home aided by vital signing
When barely 12 months after arriving at a club your employers swiftly place the original contract in the shredding pile and present you with a new, much improved one, you can assume you’ve done something right.
This latest such example of player appreciation comes courtesy of West Ham, with reports surfacing that Michail Antonio has put pen to paper once again, this time committing until 2020 at the Olympic Stadium.
The 26-year-old wideman only joined the Hammers from Nottingham Forest in August 2015 when signing an initial three-year deal, but his influence for Slaven Bilic’s Champions League-spot challengers of last season was undeniable and he’s been aptly rewarded.
Able to cover full-back with aplomb when not in his best position on the right wing, Antonio’s blend of power, pace and trickery made him a genuine weapon in the Iron’s armoury last term.
Cutting off any potentially head-turning interest early in the transfer window by tethering him seems a very shrewd move.
Although the former Forest man took a little while to establish a place in Bilic’s side after the step up in level, the Englishman swiftly flourished.
He scored eight Premier League goals during his debut top-flight campaign, which is a fantastic return from only 23 starts an three more appearances from the bench.
And even though he’s only credited with three direct assists, Antonio’s consistent levels of performance actually earned him a spot in WhoScored.com’s 2015/16 Team of the Season, combining numerous strands of statistical analysis.
Eventually, clamour arose for Antonio to be called up for the Three Lions’ Euro 2016 squad, though Roy Hodgson ultimately chose to ignore him.
If West Ham are going to build on such an impressive season under Bilic with the added pressure of their brand-new surroundings, then keeping hold of their finest players such as Antonio is paramount.
Hammers enthusiasts will be waiting with sweating palms to see if Dimitri Payet will now follow his teammate’s example, with the world’s leading clubs seemingly forming a queue for the France star’s post-Euro 2016 services.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.