West Ham

Nikola Vlasic names Michail Antonio as one of the Premier League's top three strikers

Toby Cudworth
Nikola Vlasic can't wait to get started at West Ham
Nikola Vlasic can't wait to get started at West Ham / Igor Soban/Catherine Ivill | Pixsell/MB Media/Getty Images

Nikola Vlasic, who joined West Ham on transfer deadline day, reckons new teammate Michail Antonio is among the top three strikers in the Premier League.

The 23-year-old attacking midfielder is back in England after two years with CSKA Moscow, having been allowed to leave Everton in 2019.

The Croatian has penned a long-term contract at the London Stadium, and will be tasked with helping David Moyes maintain West Ham's superb start to the season. Vlasic will also have a big part to play in the club's adventures in the Europa League.

He could make his debut on Saturday when the Irons take on Southampton at St Mary's, but first Vlasic had some words of encouragement for his teammates - particularly Antonio, who he noted has made "amazing" progress over the last 18 months.

“You know, I see these players – Saïd, Fornals and Bowen – and they’re really similar, and Michail is a beast and what he’s done over the last year and a half is amazing,” Vlasic told West Ham TV. “I think he’s probably in the top three strikers in the Premier League.

“The whole team is really solid in midfield and defence and I think we can do great things.”

Vlasic also spoke of the work ethic of two of West Ham's Czech Republic contingent, Tomas Soucek and Vladimir Coufal, and reserved special praise for on-field captain Declan Rice, who continues to perform at the highest level not only for his club but for England as well.

“I have heard a lot about professional Tomáš and Vlad are and how they have this mentality that they are always working hard and I like that because I am the same player,” Vlasic remarked. “I want to work as hard as possible every day and I’m really professional.

“About Declan, he’s West Ham captain and he’s only 22 and he’s in the starting XI in the national team, so I think you don’t need to say too much about him. Everybody knows his quality and how good he is.

“Hopefully [like them] I can also be in the history books of West Ham and I hope I will put even deeper things in history, so I’m really, really excited.”

Vlasic could be joined in the squad on Saturday by Kurt Zouma and Alex Kral, who also arrived in a busy last week of the transfer window for West Ham.