When Slaven Bilic brought Michail Antonio to West Ham in 2015 few would have expected him to make the impact he has.
The £7m signing from Nottingham Forest has been a revelation for the Irons and alongside the likes of Tomas Soucek, is leading David Moyes’ men towards European football.
It’s been quite the season for the Hammers who have bounced back remarkably well from a relegation-threatened term in 2019/20.
Antonio has been vital, making everyone stand to attention by knocking four goals past Norwich last season. The forward has since shown this season that wasn’t a one-off.
The Englishman has been tremendous, racking up a tally of five strikes in 12 outings. He’s missed a period of time through injury but has offered plenty to West Ham.
He is a bustling energetic striker, one capable of hassling opponents until they’re on their knees begging for mercy. Antonio is relentless, pressing from the front and providing tireless work rate.
Those attributes were typified by comments from Graeme Souness earlier this season. He said: “He’s one of those centre-forwards you wouldn’t enjoy playing against. You get in a race with him, he’s going to beat you, physically if you have a tangle with him, he’s going to beat you.”
Though, Moyes could be on the verge of luring a similar sort of player to West Ham. That’s because they’re monitoring the situation of Spezia forward M’Bala Nzola. Foot Mercato reported this week that Fulham had a bid rejected for the 24-year-old, but mentioned the Hammers were interested too.
Those claims were furthered by West Ham insider ExWHUemployee who made an eye-catching comparison between Nzola and one of the Premier League’s greatest players. He said: “He’s meant to be a bit like Didier Drogba in his physique and playing style.”
For a closer indication of his style, you only need to consult words from Metropolitan Magazine who described him in the following way: “[Nzola is] a very fast central striker who manages to attack space with absolute effectiveness. He is also difficult to deal with because he has enviable physical strength which makes him an extremely uncomfortable customer.”
That couldn’t be closer to Antonio, someone who also uses his powerful nature to bulldoze his way past defenders.
Nzola isn’t just about physicality either – he can also find the back of the net on a regular basis. The Frenchman has racked up an impressive tally of nine goals in just 13 Serie A appearances this season.
Bearing in mind how well Antonio has done in east London, Nzola would surely fit Moyes’ style of football. With West Ham craving a new forward after Sebastien Haller’s departure, they could do far worse than signing Nzola as his replacement.