Keeping Antonio crucial for West Ham United

West Ham United manager Slaven Bilic has told reporters that Michail Antonio is on the verge of signing a new contract.

What’s the word?

The versatile player only penned a new four-year deal eight months ago, but the club intend to offer him fresh terms.

After an impressive 18 months at the club following his £7m move from Nottingham Forest, West Ham want to reward Antonio and potentially warn off other suitors.

The Daily Mail reports that a number of Premier League clubs have expressed an interest in the 26-year-old, including the Hammers’ London rivals Chelsea.

A new deal would quieten the speculation for the time being, and it seems as though the player himself wants to commit to Bilic’s vision.

The London Evening Standard quotes the manager as saying:

“We want to give him another contract because he’s been great for us and, hopefully, it will be done soon.”

How Antonio has become vital.

The Englishman has what a lot of managers dream of having in a player – versatility.

Antonio has played as a right-back, a winger and a makeshift centre forward during his time at West Ham.

His reliability has helped him secure a regular spot in Bilic’s team and also earned him a first-ever international call-up in August last year.

Following the departure of star player Dimitri Payet in January, Antonio has been one of the team members to step up.

Bilic has selected him in the starting lineup for all but one of the team’s 26 Premier League fixtures this season.

Antonio has netted eight goals and created three others in the top flight, while he also made four appearances in the Europa League, three in the League Cup and one in the FA Cup.