It’s a summer of change at West Ham, but so far only where squad numbers are concerned.
We’ve already seen Pablo Fornals taking the departed Felipe Anderson’s No.8 shirt, and now the club have confirmed that Michail Antonio is ditching his iconic No.30 for the No.9, while Said Benrahma moves from No.9 to No.22.
Given Antonio is now a full-time centre-forward, it makes sense for him to take the No.9, but it will take some getting used to after seeing him doing his thing in the No.30 for the last six years.
Benrahma’s switch is a heartwarming one, with him explaining on the club’s official website that it’s the squad number his late father always wanted him to wear.
The Algerian said: “This is my father’s number, the number he wanted me to have, but I have never had it before in my career.
“I have worn the No.10 and No.9 shirts before, which you expect for a player who plays in my position, but the No.22 has never been available to me until now.
“I want to honour my father and now I can do that every time I play by wearing the number he always wanted me to take.”
Benrahma joins Sebastien Haller, Sam Byram, Jussi Jaaskelainen, Manuel Da Costa, Elliot Ward, Les Ferdinand, Craig Forrest and Adrian Whitbread in wearing the No.22 for West Ham in the Premier League era.
As for Antonio, he joins Benrahma, Javier Hernandez, Andy Carroll, Carlton Cole, Ilan, Dean Ashton, Jermain Defoe, Davor Suker, Paul Kitson, Tony Cottee and Trevor Morley in representing the famous No.9 shirt for the Hammers since 1993.
Here’s how fans reacted to the news on social media…
— West Ham United (@WestHam) July 20, 2021
The iconic Antonio 30 is gone 😔 pic.twitter.com/WV6ChZPJcx
— Talkin West Ham #GSBOUT (@TalkinWestHam) July 20, 2021
Would hate to be West Ham Admin right now 😅 shirt number changes, puts helmet on, presses post button on social media, incoming anger at lack of transfers! Stay strong admin 💪⚒
— Nick Burcham (@Nick_Burcham) July 20, 2021
Sad to see the iconic umber 30 go but 9 is more suited to Antonio’s role these days. He is going to be our fire cracker this season ❤️🔥⚒
— Mary (@ZaynafamilyMary) July 20, 2021
He isn’t a real 9 but if the club let him take this number it’s good for him but for me any st we are looking at is better in a 9 role
— ⚒️antho krays⚒️ (@krays2208) July 20, 2021
Yeah we ain’t signing no strikers lads. The west ham way.
— Romeo Kilo (@RAI_1_UP) July 20, 2021
Antonio 9 oh my his getting 30+ goals
— J17S (@jamessmith0305) July 20, 2021
30 goals between the two incoming
— WILL 🏴 (@wldzn) July 20, 2021