Michail Antonio has enjoyed a breakout season for West Ham Untied this year, leading the team in scoring with nine goals and has been one of the few bright spots in a season of disappointments and heartburn. He has even been called up to the England national team, although he missed the games against Germany and Lithuania with a hamstring injury.
Antonio was originally ruled out for three to four weeks after his hamstring injury against Leicester City on March 19th, Antonio made a speedy recovery to appear after the international break, appearing in the midweek game against Arsenal, only to be subbed off at half-time.
Jack Sullivan provides injury update on West Ham United trio Michail Antonio, Pedro Obiang and Winston Reid https://t.co/dnYC3yvfcC— HITC Premier League (@HITCepl) March 20, 2017
Now, after pulling up with a hamstring injury last weekend against Swansea City, and being taken off in the 40th minute, only to be replaced by Jonathan Calleri, Antonio is out for the rest of the season, exactly three weeks after he was originally supposed to be out for three to four weeks.
Was he forced back into the line-up? Did he ignore the medical staff at the club and demand to play, despite questions about his fitness? With the way the internal going-ons of this club work, I’m sure anonymous sources that may-or-may-not be David Gold will be leaking team-provided spin to favored blogs and twitter accounts. The concerning part about this is that he obviously came back before he was fully fit, played, and now is going to be out for more time than he was originally scheduled to miss.
BREAKING: Michail Antonio is officially out for the rest of the season, according to manager Slaven Bilic #WHUFC https://t.co/hXUBmTn9JL— Brace The Hammer (@BraceTheHammer) April 13, 2017
The Guardian is now reporting that contract talks have stalled once again with Antonio. While he signed a new contract last summer, with the breakout performance that he has had this season, and rumored interest from Chelsea and Manchester United, it is believed that a new contract with a significant raise was offered and set to be signed. However, Antonio apparently wants more money, and most fans seem to want the club to just pay the man his money.
West Ham’s talks with Michail Antonio stall as winger is ruled out for season https://t.co/XFIMbQqDs4 via @guardian_sport— The Guardian (@guardian) April 13, 2017
Will this dispute get ugly? Of course it will. If Antonio does sign in a big-money deal to go to Chelsea, will we get stories about him not “being loyal” while the club looks get rid of poor signings and dodgy loan deals. The fans will hear from the team about how West Ham “gave Michail an opportunity in the Premier League” with his transfer from Nottingham Forest, after bouncing around the lower leagues, with spells at Sheffield Wednesday, Reading FC, Southampton, Colchester United, Cheltenham Town, and Tooting & Mitcham United. His story of a fantastic rise from the lower leagues as an “overage” player to making the Premier League and an England call up are the stuff of legend.
The injury coming at a rather critical time for the club will affect his negotiation with the club, although it shouldn’t. Will the board attempt to low-ball Antonio or will they pony up the cash to keep Antonio a Hammer? We won't see him in claret and blue the rest of the season, but it is up in the air that the next time he is playing at the London Stadium if he’ll be wearing a West Ham kit or not.