Whether playing at right back, on the wing or up front, the Englishman has always been a reliable presence in east London. However, former Hammer Trevor Sinclair has poured doubt on Antonio’s future with the club after he didn’t make the team’s starting line up for their friendly win over Hertha Berlin on Wednesday.
“Either Antonio’s not fully fit or he’s down the pecking order?,” he wrote on his personal Twitter account. “Big loss if he’s sold.”
This isn’t speculation from Sinclair which has come out of nowhere. The Daily Mirror reported on its news and transfer centre last week [28/07; 17:56] that the Hammers’ Premier League rivals Crystal Palace are looking to bring the 29-year-old across London.
Sinclair is likely saying what every West Ham supporter is thinking after seeing Antonio drop down the pecking order for Wednesday’s game. Yes, it was only a pre season friendly, but with speculation whirring around the winger, there are serious grounds to worry.
The problem is, though, that Antonio is one of the team’s most crucial operators. His statistics aren’t as gaudy as, say, Felipe Anderson’s, but his versatility and eye for goal makes him a vital part of Manuel Pellegrini’s plans.
As per WhoScored.com, he compared pretty well with teammates Anderson, Robert Snodgrass and Grady Diangana last season. The former Nottingham Forest man was second behind the Brazilian in goals scored and only behind the Scotland international in assists provided.
Meanwhile, he led the way in average shots per game, was second in dribbles per game and was joint second in key passes per Premier League outing.
Clearly this is someone who is a valuable source of goals and attacking impetus at the London Stadium, and so every West Ham fan will be hoping Sinclair’s prognostication doesn’t come true.