West Ham want €20m Awoniyi to replace Antonio

Taiwo Awoniyi

West Ham United are reportedly right in the race to sign Union Berlin record goals scorer striker Taiwo Awoniyi in the summer transfer window.

Awoniyi has bagged an impressive 18 goals and four assists in 39 games for Union Berlin so far this season.

That’s according to a report from Bild, who claim that the Hammers will have to pay €20m if they want to sign the 24-year-old centre-forward in the summer.

West Ham manager David Moyes will be desperate to add some more firepower to his centre-forward ranks at the London Stadium before the start of next season.

Michail Antonio is currently the only recognised striker at the club and that quite clearly isn’t acceptable to the Hammers.

Moyes, it was learnt, cannot allow another transfer window to pass without strengthening his options up front. And it appears as though the wheels are already in motion for the Hammers to strengthen in the centre-forward department.

Bild reckon that the 24-year-old powerhouse will cost the Hammers €20m this summer. That is apparently the release clause inserted into his contract at Union Berlin.

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According to www.hammers.news, “We think that the ex-Liverpool hitman would be a sensational addition for West Ham. He is a real powerhouse and would be the perfect long-term replacement for Michail Antonio.

“His fine form has helped fire Union Berlin up to sixth spot in the Bundesliga and they still have an outside chance of finishing inside the Champions League places.

“The Nigerian is a total menace for opposing defenders. The 24-year-old is absolutely rapid and is built like a proverbial outhouse.

“Awoniyi is a willing and tireless runner. His physical attributes help him occupy more than one defender at a time and that in turn creates space for his teammates.

“We would be absolutely delighted if David Moyes ends up bringing Awoniyi to the London Stadium in the summer.”

Meanwhile, Newcastle United and Southampton have also been linked with the Nigeria international.

Awoniyi signed for Liverpool in August 2015 but didn’t make a first team appearance and instead went on seven loan spells in Germany, Holland and Belgium.

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The last of those, at Union in 2020-21, led to a £6.5m transfer to the Stadion An der Alten Forsterei.

Meanwhile, Awoniyi, will be looking to equal and surpass the 14 Bundesliga goals scored by former Super Eagles striker, Jonathan Akpoborie, when they face RB Leipzig again on Saturday.

Akpoborie scored 14 goals in 31 appearances in the 1996/97 season in the colours of Hansa Rostock, which has remained the highest number of goals scored by a Nigerian in a single Bundesliga season, but after 25 years, the record could be equaled or broken by Awoniyi.

Awoniyi has 13 Bundesliga goals this season and is Union’s first player to reach that milestone, and could achieve another landmark on Saturday at the Red Bull Arena in Leipzig by scoring his 14th goal.

That will bring him equal with Akpoborie, while a brace will make him Nigeria’s Bundesliga goals king.

The 24-year-old has been one of the most in-for strikers in the league this season and with four goals in his last seven league games, the Nigerian will be one of Union players to watch out for in the encounter.

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Despite breaking the club’s scoring record, Awoniyi believes he is just trying to get better in every game.

“I will never say I’ve overachieved,” Awoniyi told soccernet.ng.

“The goal is to be better than who I am. When I came to Berlin, I just needed a place to feel welcome, a place to have opportunities.

“I thank God for the coaches and team for being behind me when it’s not going well, they are still behind you. For me, being here is about doing the best for myself, developing my skill and talent and I think that’s what is happening presently,” he added.

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