Marko Arnautovic is once again the subject of more speculation surrounding his future at West Ham.
Some reports have suggested that the Austrian has handed in a transfer request for the second time in six months, while others say he hasn’t, but could still be angling for a move away from the London Stadium.
Either way, the Austrian can only be having a detrimental effect on dressing room morale. He has been a combustible figure throughout his career, and while he appeared to settle down after moving to England, his actions during his second season at the Hammers have been worrying.
China seems to be a temptation that he cannot resist. After a £30.5m offer in January, he asked to leave only to be convinced to stay on a new, improved contract.
Once again this summer it appears that another offer, reportedly €22m (£19.7m), has been made by a Chinese Super League team, which has been knocked back by West Ham.
The Irons are reportedly determined to hold out for their £40m asking price, for a player they paid Stoke £25m two summers ago. The question is: is Arnautovic worth the trouble?
Going by his performances last season, the answer has to be ‘no.’ Just ten goals in 28 league appearances are not the numbers of a player you should be desperately trying to hang on to.
Of course, West Ham are in a strong position. Arnautovic is tied down to a contract until 2023, and the London club are under no pressure to sell. Chinese clubs also have an abundance of wealth so meeting the club’s valuation shouldn’t be an issue if they really wanted to sign him.
However, it appears a lot of the interest is being encouraged by the player’s agent. With that being said, this could well be a long drawn out transfer saga that could cast a long shadow over the Hammers’ pre-season preparations.
Cutting their losses on a player who could cause more disruption in the future may well be the best solution, and letting it drag on will damage the club’s chances of finding a replacement.
While £20m is certainly derisory, you have to think if a club from the Far East offers £30m once again, the club will take it this time. West Ham could then use the money to buy a new number nine and perhaps trigger Maxi Gomez’s £45m release clause if he is still available.