Whilst the Hammers aren’t exactly known for their ambitious approach to signing exciting new stars in the summer transfer window with every passing season, West Ham nonetheless had a rather busy deadline-day to contend with this month.
In welcoming in four fresh players to add to Slaven Bilic’s updated ranks for the upcoming 2015/16 campaign, the Upton Park faithful are now currently paying witness to arguably one of the strongest squads they’ve seen at the club for a good few years at least. It seems the Hammers’ chairmen may in-fact be preparing for the hotly anticipated move to London’s Olympic Stadium next season just like they said they would, after all.
Whilst the likes of Alex Song, Victor Moses and Nikica Jelavic may all arrive in the east end with prior experience of the English top-flight firmly stacked under their belts, West Ham’s final deadline-day signing – Michail Antonio – seemingly offers his new team an air of unpredictability for the rest of the season.
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So then, although the 25-year-old Englishman doesn’t quite offer the most recognised of reputations the Premier League has ever hosted, just how much of a coup could Michail Antonio eventually prove for Slaven Bilic as West Ham embark on their final ever season at the beloved Boleyn Ground?
Well, if Hammers fans genuinely wanted to see a fresh new injection of untapped potential issued into their club’s squad this season, then Antonio could well represent the perfect option for West Ham going forward. He’s still relatively young, possesses a level of ability that won’t be widely known among his competitors this season – and most importantly of all – is hungry to prove himself now that he’s made that significant step-up to the Premier League.
Although supporters of the English top-flight may have admittedly never even seen the former Reading and Nottingham Forest man do his thing out on the pitch with all things considered, fans of the Championship seemingly have a much better awareness of what Michail Antonio truly brings to the table.
The exciting English attacker scored an impressive total of 15 goals in all competitions for Nottingham Forest last season, finishing the 2014/15 campaign as his sides’ joint top goal-scorer along with Britt Assombalonga. Whilst Antonio may still yet need time to adapt to the testing nature of the Premier League of course, the signs nonetheless look promising for West Ham in front of goal this term.
Another important aspect to Michail Antonio’s game however, involves his sheer versatility in the final third. The former City Ground favourite certainly arrives as a powerful asset, capable of bullying even the most resolute of Premier League defences via his towering stature alone – but seeing as Slaven Bilic already has the likes of Diafra Sakho, Mauro Zarate, Nikica Jelavic, Enner Valencia and Andy Carroll to contend with in the striking department this term – a wise bet would see Michail Antonio used predominantly as a wide-man at Upton Park in 2015/16.
Despite spending a reported £7million on a player who has ultimately never played in the English top-flight before, the options available to West Ham this season nevertheless arrive in some pretty impressive style.
In conjunction with the fellow new-boy Victor Moses this term, Hammers fans all of a sudden have some truly promising assets to cover the flanks when required, especially as the team were distinctly short of wingers before this summer’s deadline-day eventually came around.
The impact likely to be made by Victor Moses and Michail Antonio combined will surely provide Slaven Bilic with a key update on the likes of Matt Jarvis and Morgan Amalfitano by all accounts – even if West Ham’s latest arrival may admittedly have to work on his technique somewhat before cementing a first team place in the Hammers’ starting XI.
So then, as Michail Antonio is set to join up with the equally exciting likes of Dimitri Payet, Alex Song, Manuel Lanzini, Angelo Ogbonna and Pedro Obiang at the Boleyn Ground this season – expect the Upton Park faithful to approach their upcoming league fixture with Newcastle United with some much renewed confidence in and around the club – despite the 2015/16 campaign so far proving completely unpredictable for Slaven Bilic’s new side.