‘Never fit’: Forest fans beg club to offload Awoniyi amid West Ham interest

Nottingham Forest and Super Eagles star Taiwo Awoniyi, has emerged as a transfer target for Premier League outfit, West Ham United.

Despite a decent Premier League season with 6 goals and 3 assists in just 12 starts, his time at the City Ground has been marred by a persistent groin injury. These fitness issues limited him to only 20 appearances and 1,046 minutes, causing him to miss the AFCON tournament as well.

While Forest narrowly avoided relegation thanks to Luton Town's final-day loss, questions surround Awoniyi's future. West Ham United, under incoming manager Julen Lopetegui, are reportedly keen on the striker. They see him as the ideal solution to provide depth and a clinical edge alongside Michail Antonio. This potential move comes after Antonio's own injury struggles left West Ham relying heavily on Jarrod Bowen and Mohammed Kudus for goals.

However, Forest fans are divided. Some, frustrated by Awoniyi's injury woes, are urging the club to cash in on West Ham's interest. They believe his fitness limitations hinder the team's progress. 

Others, however, see the potential in the powerful forward and are eager to see him flourish once fully fit. They point to his strong hold-up play and contributions in crucial moments, arguing that a healthy Awoniyi can be a valuable asset for Forest.

Awoniyi to West Ham: Fans react

Taiwo Awoniyi at Nottingham Forest

Taiwo Awoniyi's arrival at Nottingham Forest in the summer of 2022, secured with a hefty £17 million transfer fee from Union Berlin, sent a clear message: the Reds were serious about their return to the Premier League. And Awoniyi hasn't disappointed, quickly establishing himself as a crucial figure at the City Ground.

While his goal tally of 17 in 50 appearances might not jump off the page, there's a strong case to be made that Awoniyi's value to Forest extends far beyond his scoring record. His physical presence is undeniable. Towering at six feet, he poses a physical challenge to even the most well-established defenders. His ability to hold up play with his back to goal is another key asset, solidifying his reputation as a force to be reckoned with in the Premier League.

Last season, Awoniyi's contributions were instrumental in Forest's fight for survival. He notched 10 goals and delivered several standout performances, particularly during a crucial late-season push that secured their place in the top flight.

Taiwo Awoniyi: Forest fans beg club to offload injury-prone striker amid West Ham interest
Photo by Icon Sport

Carrying that momentum into the new season, Awoniyi started strong, registering a goal or an assist in each of the first five games. However, injuries, including a recurring groin problem, disrupted his progress. He returned in late January, marking his comeback with a goal against his seemingly favored opponent, Arsenal. Two more goal contributions followed in the next four games.

Just as Awoniyi appeared to be hitting his stride and poised to play a pivotal role in Forest's continued fight against relegation, he was struck down by fitness issues once again. These setbacks have seen him miss over 160 days of football since his high-profile transfer from Union Berlin.

West Ham's Awoniyi dilemma: Can they look past the injuries?

West Ham United are circling Taiwo Awoniyi, a striker entering his prime with Premier League and European experience. On paper, he seems like the perfect solution to bridge the gap between their aging forwards and a promising academy prospect. But a closer look reveals a potential deal-breaker: Awoniyi's lengthy injury struggles.

The Hammers boast flair players like Mohammed Kudus, Lucas Paqueta, and Jarrod Bowen, but they lack a reliable finisher. Michail Antonio (34) is a constant threat when healthy, but his recent struggles due to knee trouble highlight the need for a younger option. Backup Danny Ings (31) isn't much younger, and neither inspire long-term confidence. 18-year-old academy star Divin Mubama is exciting, but he's far too raw to be thrust into the starting role.

Taiwo Awoniyi: Forest fans beg club to offload injury-prone striker amid West Ham interest
Photo by Icon Sport

Enter Awoniyi. He seems like the missing piece – experienced, talented, and in his prime. 

However, a dark cloud hangs over his candidacy: his injury record at Nottingham Forest. Since his big-money transfer, Awoniyi has missed over 160 days of action. This can't be ignored by West Ham, especially considering Antonio's own susceptibility to injuries.

If West Ham decide to walk away because of his fitness issues, it could be a significant missed opportunity. Awoniyi's potential and ambition are undeniable, and he could be exactly what they need. But the risk is substantial. Can they afford to gamble on a player with such a concerning history, despite his clear talent? Only time will tell if the allure of Awoniyi's potential outweighs the fear of his fragility. The decision they make could define West Ham's attacking future.

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Toyosi Afolayan

Toyosi Afolayan is a sports journalist who breathes life into the games we love. He loves to combine insightful analysis with historical background, creating a richer understanding of sports. Afolayan's expertise ranges from captivating narratives to live broadcasts, captivating audiences across platforms like Ojbsport, AllNigeriaSoccer, TVC Entertainment, Bounce Networks, Kwara TV, ICIR, EaglesTracker, and NFF TV. His background in History and International Studies adds depth, revealing the connections between sports, politics, and national identity.