Marko Arnautovic has signed a contract extension with West Ham despite finding the offer to play in China “very tempting”.
The Austrian was heavily mooted to be heading to China this month with both Shanghai SIPG and Guangzhou Evergrande linked, but he has now agreed a new deal with West Ham, with the announcement coming moments after shock defeat to Wimbledon in FA Cup.
Arnautovic’s transfer saga: Five key things to know …
- Marko Arnautovic was heavily linked with a move to China in January.
- The Austrian’s brother and agent added more fuel to the rumour mill when he announced Arnautovic’s wishes to leave West Ham.
- Arnautovic was left out of last Saturday’s game to play Bournemouth with the expectation being that he’d leave the club.
- Pellegrini said he would not force the Austrian to stay in east London, but pointed out that he would have the final say.
- Arnautovic was once again left out of the squad this weekend, but the club have since announced he has signed a contract extension less than an hour after crashing out of the FA Cup to AFC Wimbledon.
Late on Friday night, Arnautovic addressed the long-running speculation on Instagram: “Dear West Ham fans, I guess it is no secret that there has been an offer for me and I have to admit the offer was a very tempting one for me and my family,” he wrote.
“I am a professional footballer and the only thing I know in life is to play football. It is clear that London and West Ham feels like home and I hope the West Ham fans have always seen that.
“The club has pointed my career in the right direction since I joined and therefore I want to put the offers aside, help the club to climb as high as possible in the table and try to win the Cup.
“Let’s focus on the rest of this season together and let them bubbles fly.”
Arnautovic’s U-turn could have had more to do with the will of his manager as last week Manuel Pellegrini insisted that the Austrian’s future with the club was firmly in his hands.
A message from Marko Arnautovic to the fans: pic.twitter.com/QgLFhMuynm
— West Ham United (@WestHamUtd) January 26, 2019
“Absolutely, 100 per cent sure. I have the final say,” he told reporters ahead of West Ham’s game against Bournemouth last Saturday.
“If I say the player must stay, the player will stay,” he added.
Pellegrini opted to leave Arnautovic out of his side’s 4-2 defeat against AFC Wimbledon, but shortly after the loss, the club announced the talisman has put pen-to-paper on a new deal, though there were no details regarding the length of the contract extension.
On signing, he said: “I love this club and I will always love this club no matter what. You have decisions you have to make in life, but I say from now it doesn’t matter what happens I will always love West Ham and it will always be a big part in my life.
“I love this happiness, so listen, I’m here, I’m ready. I hope the fans are also ready and we go again.”
Could Arnautovic still leave in the summer?
Despite signing a contract extension with the club, where he confirmed his “100 per cent commitment” to West Ham, the Hammers are still reportedly in talks to sign Celta Vigo striker Maxi Gomez.
This could potentially mark the start of an overhaul in the summer to fund the acquisition of the Uruguayan marksman, who would cost West Ham a club-record fee of £43.3m – the striker’s release clause.
Arnautovic was reportedly upset that the move to China was stalled this month, and his brother and agent has railed against the Hammers for not accepting the £35m offer made for his sibling.
It’s understood that Pellegrini has been less than impressed with the Austrian’s commitment in training this week and the manager even consented to sell the player if his price was met.
The 29-year-old has also been linked with moves to Manchester United and Chelsea over the January transfer window, but it appears that the striker will remain in east London for now.