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Michail Antonio - “I'd rather play on the wing”

West Ham's leading goalscorer prefers life on the wing, but is happy to sacrifice for the team as long as they're winning.

West Ham United v Watford - Premier League Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

Life in the Premier League for Michail Antonio has been a whirlwind of emotions over the past season. Coming from humble beginnings, the 26 year old has adapted to the top flight quicker than most. With an outstanding resume to his name, scoring 14 goals in 39 appearances for The Hammers, surely everything would be as easy as it seems.

Northampton Town v Reading - Pre-Season Friendly
Antonio during his days at Reading.

Since Antonio started playing regularly for Championship side Reading in 2008-09, he found his niche playing over on the left side of midfield, preferably in a winger role, allowing him space to show his attacking arsenal of speed, power and great finishing.

However, when he joined West Ham back in 2015, Michail had to wait for his chance to prove to boss Slaven Bilić that he deserved his spot in the starting XI.

It didn't take long for Antonio to show the Upton Park faithful what the team had been lacking, turning in several man of the match performances and scoring vital goals to help push West Ham into a Europa League birth.

For reasons unbeknown to most at West Ham, Slaven saw the potential of turning Michail into one of the most successful attacking right backs in the league.

Whether he was right or wrong to do so, the goal production certainly hasn't been lacking from Michail's game, netting 6 in the league already this season and currently sitting as West Ham's top goal scorer this year. However, it's been the lack of any real basic defensive qualities that have stood out and his somewhat sluggish attitude to being played in a right wing-back role.

Speaking with Sky Sports today Michail said;

“My favourite position is playing on the wing. I prefer to play left wing, that's my favourite role, I would like to be a winger in a four, like a 4-4-2, but right now I'm playing wing back and playing well so I just have to take it and keep going.”

"I haven't spoken to the manager about it. I don't feel the need because since we've changed it we've been doing well.”

"I'm a team player. I played right back last season for half the season and now I'm playing wing-back but I'm scoring goals, I'm playing well so I can't really complain."

It's been interesting to see Michail's game develop over the past few seasons, but as a West Ham fan you can't help but imagine his frustration playing in an unnatural position each week, when he knows personally he'd be more effective on the wing.

We've come to understand the stubbornness of Slaven Bilić, and as long as West Ham fail to sign a real long-term solution at right back, no matter what he says, Antonio's frustration must carry on.