Belfast Telegraph

West Ham to offer Michail Antonio improved contract this summer

Slaven Bilic has confirmed that West Ham will offer Michail Antonio an improved contract this summer.

Antonio, who is set to return from a hamstring injury against Arsenal on Wednesday night, has been the Hammers' star performer this season and the club are determined to keep him in east London.

The 27-year-old England midfielder had already been tied down to a long-team deal, but the new terms will reportedly see his salary climb to £65,000 per week.

"The club and chairman appreciate the job he has done for us," Bilic said.

"The club is offering him a new contract definitely, for sure, this summer. He wants to stay. To be fair, he has a long contract anyway, it's not like he has one year left.

"But we appreciate what he has done and we want to keep him happy and keep him for a long time. The club are preparing for that."

Antonio has been sidelined since the 3-2 defeat to Leicester on March 18, his hamstring problem forcing him to withdraw from the England squad for the recent internationals against Germany and Lithuania.

However, he will feature as West Ham attempt to end their four-match losing run when they travel to Emirates Stadium on Wednesday evening.

"Antonio has trained the last couple of days. He is definitely going to be involved in the game, whether he starts or not, we'll see," Bilic said.

"It's a big boost for us because we are talking about our best player. He makes a difference week in and week out.

"He's been doing that all the time and it's a big boost for us ahead of a game like Arsenal."

A 2-1 defeat to Hull has left West Ham six points above the relegation zone and two days ago the club issued a vote of confidence in Bilic by stating they have "100 per cent faith'' in their manager.

Bilic has welcomed the support, but insists he always knew it was there.

"I don't have to read the papers to know my relationship with the board because I talk to the chairman before or after every game," Bilic said.

"It's nice to read it but I know I have the confidence from the board and I wasn't worried. I have my job, I concentrate on that and my players.

"I knew that their confidence was there before and I like it that I'm not thinking about it a lot, but totally focused on my job and the next game. That's the only way to act and think."

Arsenal face their own difficulties as they battle to reclaim their place in the top four against a backdrop of relentless speculation over the future of Arsene Wenger, but Bilic insists they remain a dangerous side.

"Arsenal have their problems, but they are still a team with a lot of pace, a team you can't afford to lose the ball against in your own half because the transition and pace they have up front is unbelievable," Bilic said.

"They attack with numbers which makes them more likely to create something, but when they lose the ball they are very vulnerable because they leave a big space behind which you can use."

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph