Thierry Henry believes West Ham could have finished even higher this season if Michail Antonio had been available for its entire duration.
It has been a remarkable season for the Hammers, who were hovering above the relegation zone last term. This time around, they are well in the fight for a Champions League place. With four games to go, they are just three points off fourth-placed Chelsea.
Even if they cannot break into that territory, they will still be delighted with how far they have come compared to the previous campaign.
Their push for a European place strengthened with a 2-1 win at Burnley on Monday, which put them fifth. Antonio was the inspiration in that game, scoring both of their goals.
The 31-year-old was making his 20th start of the Premier League season. His absence has been felt when he has been out with injury, especially after the club failed to sign another striker in January.
Thus, legendary former Arsenal striker Henry claimed that West Ham could have reached even loftier heights if Antonio had avoided injuries this term.
“He is contagious,” Henry said on Sky Sports. “He works hard every single time and when you play in a team like that, you as a defender see a guy battling on everything, you can give him any time of ball and he will try to hold it.
“Put people in and, more than time to time, he will score a goal for you. They missed him (when he was injured).
“I think if he didn’t get that amount of injuries this year then maybe they would have been higher.”
Antonio is West Ham’s joint-top scorer this season with nine goals. Jesse Lingard and Tomas Soucek have also reached that same tally.
West Ham ruled out of Abraham race
Meanwhile, David Moyes has ruled West Ham out of the race to sign one of the many strikers they have been linked with, Tammy Abraham.
Abraham may be on the lookout for a new club this summer after falling out of favour at Chelsea. He remains their top scorer with 12 goals this season but has barely featured since Thomas Tuchel took charge. With West Ham searching for a new striker, they could be the ideal match.
When the next transfer window opens, they could have the chance to sign Abraham. Given how high up West Ham are set to finish, it wouldn’t represent too much of a step down and would allow him to stay in London.
But Moyes has denied that his side will be able to afford the England striker, who is valued at around £40m.
“It would rule us out completely. We will be ruled out,” Moyes said. “So if that’s the figure and that’s what’s being said, we are ruled out.
“We don’t have that money, we don’t have that to buy a striker at that price, no.
“Is that sort of figure our total spend? It may well be. But you never know here.
“I don’t think we will be making a purchase of that for any one player. I’d be surprised if we were.”