It’s been on for a while now, and even a week or so later, there is still muttering in western London that Antonio Conte is interested in poaching West Ham fan-favorite Michail Antonio and taking him to Stamford Bridge.
While the ineptitude of the West Ham board has shown this season that pretty much anything can happen, we can almost guarantee that this transfer will not, if not for the sole reason that Michail Antonio is too important to the club. In the calendar year of 2016, Antonio scored 15 goals—more than both Jamie Vardy and Roberto Firmino who scored 14. Antonio’s goalscoring has been one of the only real bright spots in a so-far dismal campaign for the Hammers.
Michail Antonio has now scored more Premier League goals (15) in 2016 than Jamie Vardy and Roberto Firmino (both 14).— Squawka Football (@Squawka) December 26, 2016
Unsung hero pic.twitter.com/EQsjxdUjnL
To put it simply: Antonio won’t be leaving for Chelsea because West Ham plan on having him for a long time. This summer he signed a new contract through the year 2020, and it seems that Sofiane Feghouli will be out the door soon, which leaves West Ham with just one active, first-team right winger in Michail Antonio. While it looks like the Hammers really want to snatch up right winger Robert Snodgrass, it’s likely that he’ll be playing second fiddle to Antonio—much like Feghouli did—should the Hammers actually get him.
Now that this rumor has been all but refuted, can we please focus on what’s most important in this window and sign a right-back?