Sports News of Wednesday, 2 August 2017
West Ham defender Angelo Ogbonna believes the presence of Andre Ayew and co. in their dressing room will give the team a massive boost in the upcoming Premier League campaign.
Ogbonna won back-to-back Serie A titles and reached the UEFA Champions League final during his two seasons with Juventus between 2013-15.
The Italy international has since been joined in east London by a succession of players who have also lifted trophies during their own careers – UEFA Euro 2016 champion Jose Fonte, two-time French League Cup winner Andre Ayew and Manuel Lanzini, who won three league titles during his time in Brazil and Argentina.
This summer, double Premier League winners Joe Hart, Pablo Zabaleta and Chicharito have joined them at London Stadium, giving Ogbonna even more optimism for the 2017/18 campaign ahead.
“I think it’s very important to have winners at the Club,” the No21 confirmed, “and we have a lot of international players who have won things, not only our new signings but also players like Fonte, Ayew and Lanzini.
“This is important for us because these players bring an open and positive mentality. This is the best thing, because you can look forward to what you want to achieve.
“We have signed experienced players and that’s the most important thing for the Club. They are used to winning things and will bring that to the dressing room, so we can learn from them.”
Ogbonna’s two seasons in Claret and Blue have been wildly contrasting. The 2015/16 campaign saw the Hammers challenge for a top-four finish and qualify for the UEFA Europa League.
However, last term was a different story, with West Ham struggling in the bottom half of the Premier League table for much of the season before rallying to finish eleventh in May.
The 29-year-old is himself returning after knee surgery ruled him out for much of the second half of last season, and does not believe setting lofty personal or team targets is a sensible course of action.
Instead, he is hoping the presence of four top-class signings – Marko Arnautovic being the fourth member of the quartet – will help the Hammers to improve on their 2016/17 showing.
“We want to show ourselves better than last season and I think the Board have done well and we have signed good players,” he continued. “That is a big motivation, not just for us but for everyone around, like fans and for the Club as well.
“I think my idea is to start over this new season so that step-by-step we don’t need to make the same mistakes like we did last season. We don’t need to talk about finishing higher or top-four, but we need to do better than last season.
“We need to concentrate on our work – this is very important.”