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Forget Townsend – Rafa should instead sign this speedy West Ham beast for Newcastle United

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Michail Antonio would be an ideal replacement if Zaha departs Crystal Palace (Getty Images)

Why West Ham boss Benitez should go for Antonio instead of Andros Townsend

Rafael Benitez enjoyed a fruitful return to the Premier League with Newcastle United. The Magpies didn’t really have the best of starts but certainly ended their season in style with a 3-0 win against Chelsea at the St. James’ Park.

The former Liverpool manager will now be aiming to bolster his squad ahead of the new campaign. Newcastle United have been linked with out of favour West Ham midfielder Michail Antonio. Benitez is reportedly interested in prizing away the versatile midfielder from the London Stadium.

New manager Manuel Pellegrini has come in and bolstered the squad with his own crop of players, which could see Antonio fall down the pecking order. The midfielder didn’t really feature regularly for the Hammers last season as well. A move could be on the cards and certainly seems possible.

Antonio generally operates as a winger but the former Nottingham Forest man is a very versatile player. He can play in a wide number of roles up front. Michail Antonio is capable of slotting into a central attacking role behind the striker and can comfortably play on both flanks. The 28-year-old has also previously played in a wing-back role, which will make him a very tasty prospect for Rafael Benitez.

The West Ham midfielder made a total of just 16 appearances in the Premier League last season, scoring 3 goals and providing 1 assist in that time. His campaign was blighted by injury problems and the winger failed to produce any sort of consistency. But that doesn’t really take his qualities away from him. In the previous two league seasons with the Hammers, he scored 9 and 8 goals respectively.

Antonio is pacy, both on and off the ball. His ability to wiggle past defenders was often on display with the Hammers and he also poses as an aerial threat. The 28-year-old boasts an impressive finishing ability and he could play in a number of roles for Rafa Benitez’s men.

Michail Antonio

Antonio would provide ample support to the likes of Matt Ritchie and Dwight Gayle. He would provide the Magpies width and the ability to stretch defenders out of their position using his marauding runs down the flanks.

Read more: Why Newcastle must hold onto their influential star amidst £25m West Ham interest

Also, Newcastle have been linked with a move for former midfielder Andros Townsend. Rafa Benitez should probably make the wise choice and go for Michail Antonio. The winger can provide the manager with a number of options due to his versatility, something that Townsend cannot replicate. He has shown that when given a regular run of games, the midfielder is very much capable of producing the goods. At Newcastle, Rafa Benitez could provide him with more game time and the right mentorship to help him grow as a player.

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