Nikola Vlasic feels he has ‘a point to prove’ at West Ham after disappointing Everton stint

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Nikola Vlasic (left) believes he has a point to prove at West Ham after a disappointing spell at Everton  (AFP via Getty Images)
Nikola Vlasic (left) believes he has a point to prove at West Ham after a disappointing spell at Everton (AFP via Getty Images)

New West Ham signing Nikola Vlasic says he has a point to prove in English football after making his full debut in last night’s 2-0 win over Dinamo Zagreb in the Europa League.

Vlasic joined the Hammers from CSKA Moscow on deadline day for a fee that could rise to £35million and the Croatian playmaker started their first-ever European group game in his homeland.

Goals either side of half-time by Michail Antonio and Declan Rice earned West Ham a deserved victory at the Stadion Maksimir, where Tottenham suffered an embarrassing 3-0 defeat last season.

Vlasic, 23, flopped after signing for Everton as a 19-year-old in 2017, making just 19 appearances before moving to Russia, but says he is now a better player.

“I feel that I have a point to prove,” Vlasic told Standard Sport. “When I went to Everton I was very young, 19 years old, so I didn’t have too many chances there.

“Now it’s a different situation. I’m a more mature player, a better player. I loved the three years at CSKA, I think I proved a lot, so I’m back in England and I want to prove myself here in the best league in the world.

“Maybe [my age] was the problem at Everton but I remember I was good at training. Maybe I should have had more chances but it is what it is.

“I wanted to leave the club to have more minutes and it helped me to be in Russia. I was the main player at CSKA, it helped me to gain confidence.

“Now I’m back here and I need to prove myself. I’m back at the start of a journey and every game, every training session is about proving myself. I’m here only seven days and I hope I will be here a long period of time.

“West Ham have a great, great team. Very good players. We’reall quick, all good technically.

“The philosophy of the coach is very good — attacking football — and I enjoy it. It was a no-brainer for me when I heard about their interest. It was an easy decision.”

Antonio’s suspension has increased Vlasic’s chances of making his first League start for the visit of Manchester United on Sunday, with David Moyes expected to recall Angelo Ogbonna, Vladimir Coufal and Jarrod Bowen, and hand a first League start to Kurt Zouma, who was imperious in Zagreb.

Declan Rice’s fine individual goal helped West Ham to a 2-0 Europa League win (AP)
Declan Rice’s fine individual goal helped West Ham to a 2-0 Europa League win (AP)

Vlasic believes United arguably have the best side in the world but says the Hammers will not be scared of Cristiano Ronaldo and his team-mates at the London Stadium.

“Their team is maybe one of the best in the world,” he said.

“You never know how we’ll approach the game — we still need to talk about that — but one thing is for sure: we will not be scared.

“I don’t think this team is scared of anyone. We can play with anyone because we have very good players, a good manager, good staff to show us details of the games. We shouldn’t be afraid. We should show our best.

“I came back [to England] because of [games like] this. This is football. This will be my first time at the West Ham stadium, so I hope I can play Sunday.”

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West Ham make light work of tricky Dinamo Zagreb test on stellar Europa League bow

West Ham player ratings vs Dinamo Zagreb: Dominant Kurt Zouma a class apart on debut

Jarrod Bowen hails West Ham new boys Alex Kral, Kurt Zouma and Nikola Vlasic

West Ham sign Nikola Vlasic from CSKA Moscow in £25.7m transfer deadline day deal

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