In Focus: Antonio set to fight for Hammers place despite exit talks
Michail Antonio is poised to remain at West Ham this January despite revealing talks have taken place over his departure.
The Hammers’ all-time Premier League top scorer recently said there was a possibility he could leave the London Stadium before the transfer deadline following the arrival of Danny Ings.
But manager David Moyes has since insisted he has no intention of offloading the 32-year-old, meaning the striker is set to stay and fight for his place.
With January arrival Ings unavailable for tonight’s FA Cup clash against Derby, we turn the spotlight on what the future holds for Antonio.
Antonio recently admitted that his career in East London could be drawing to a close.
The Jamaica international has been linked with moves to Wolves and Everton before tomorrow's deadline.
He told the Footballer’s Football podcast: "Honestly, I’ve not ruled anything out. Nothing’s been ruled out, there are talks. Whatever happens, happens, if I go, I go.
"This is what it is. There’s definitely talks happening and that’s what I’m saying, I can’t say anything else.
"I’ve been here for eight-and-a-half years now and I’ve loved every moment of it. Every single moment is somewhere close to my heart and I’ll always be looking out for it. I love the fans, I’ve loved my time at West Ham.
"It’s just one of those things. I’m not saying goodbye, I’m saying basically, if it happens, it happens and if it doesn’t, it doesn’t.
"I won’t be upset about staying and I’ll definitely be upset if I leave because obviously I’ve enjoyed my time here, but football is football."
Moyes holding firm
Despite his very public revelations, his manager poured cold water over suggestions of a potential exit for now.
Following his striker’s remarks, Moyes responded: "[Antonio] said it but we here have got no intention of doing anything.
"Sometimes players choose to do that, some of them want to go. But at the moment we want [him] here, we want him playing well, we want him scoring goals, and we're happy to have him."
While they have underperformed during the current campaign, the Hammers have enjoyed great success over the previous two seasons, largely with Antonio as their only option up front.
Gianluca Scamacca arrived from Sassuolo in the summer to him some much-needed competition but that has seen the long-serving ace start only nine of their 20 league games this term.
With Ings now among the squad too, giving all three sufficient game time looks a tall order.
Still a place for him
Antonio managed 30 Premier League goals across his previous three West Ham seasons but has found the net only twice during the current Premier League campaign, as well as one apiece in the Carabao Cup and Europa Conference League.
His decline is perhaps a result of a new approach from the Scottish boss this term, with a shift from counter-attacking in the previous two seasons to having more possession not paying dividends thus far.
That said, a crucial 2-0 win over fellow relegation strugglers Everton in their last Premier League game was a reminder that the physical forward still has plenty to offer.
The Wandsworth native was a threat throughout the clash, providing his side with a focal point to form attacks and breaking the lines with his runs into the channels.
And it was one of those runs that led to West Ham’s second goal as the forward burst past James Tarkowski on the touch-line before teeing up Jarrod Bowen for the easiest of finishes.
With £35.5million recruit Scamacca still finding his feet in the English top flight and Ings facing a race to be back fit, it is easy to see why Moyes wants to keep his No9 around as they continue their battle against the drop.
Chance to shine
Tonight’s FA Cup tie with League One outfit Derby may therefore be another chance for Antonio to prove his worth.
As West Ham’s leading Premier League goalscorer with 58 strikes, the former Nottingham Forest man knows he has the capability to find the net on a more regular basis.
Their struggle for goals was one of the key reasons Ings was brought in and that is something Antonio must improve if he is to keep the former Aston Villa marksman out of the XI.