By support

3rd Jan, 2017 | 6:08pm

West Ham ace shortlisted by PL giants to fill homegrown quota - report

By Dominic Toner

Chelsea are interested in signing West Ham ace Michail Antonio, according to a report.

The Sun claim that Blues manager Antonio Conte has identified the 26-year-old as a potential target this January transfer window.

It is reported that Conte is wary of needing at least eight homegrown players out of 25 if the club qualify for the Champions League next season, something that Englishman Antonio would help fill.

The report details that Chelsea will find it difficult to persuade Antonio to move to Stamford Bridge as he is currently enjoying life with the Hammers.

Antonio earned his first set of England call-ups in 2016 and has been impressive during his spell with West Ham.

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The attacker has become a recognised Premier League player after spells in the Championship with the likes of Nottingham Forest and Sheffield Wednesday.

He has predominately been used as a striker this season for the Hammers, but has also filled in at defence and midfield.

Antonio has been the club’s standout player this campaign, scoring eight goals and supplying one assist in 26 appearances across all competitions.

He was involved in the last team to beat Chelsea back in October as West Ham won an EFL Cup match 2-1.

Football Insider verdict: 

West Ham should ignore attempts from Chelsea to sell their star player Antonio. The 26-year-old has already proved to be an extremely useful asset in the Hammers squad this season and is their top goalscorer with eight goals. He has been used in defence, midfield and attack by Slaven Bilic, something that is valuable to the squad. Antonio has developed into a fine player during his time with West Ham and has been the club’s best player this season. The attacker is needed if the Hammers are to continue their climb up the league table and fulfil their aspirations of competing for a European spot. The move to the London Stadium has not gone smoothly, but Antonio is a player that has thrived under the added pressure.

In other West Ham transfer news, the club have made an emphatic decision in their pursuit of a defender.