Marko Arnautovic took his time before signing new Stoke contract
Published 27/07/2016 | 14:46
Stoke have signed Marko Arnautovic to a new four-year deal after the Austria international lingered long and hard over the decision.
Despite signing Liverpool's Joe Allen and Ramadan Sobhi of Al Ahly this week, guaranteeing their playmaker's long-term future was arguably the Potters' biggest priority of the transfer window.
He was the Potters' top-scorer last season with 12, as well as their players' player of the year, and had been linked with a move to Everton among others.
At the age of 27 and with one year remaining on his previous deal this summer was a big moment for Arnautovic who admitted he took his time to commit.
Writing on his Instagram page, alongside a picture of his contract signing, Arnautovic said: "I am proud and thrilled to finally let you know I am going to remain a Potter and will continue playing with my team and for my fantastic fans.
"I suppose sometimes it takes a bit longer to make the right decision and this one comes from my heart. My family and I could not be happier. Can't wait for the season to begin!"
Stoke's hopes of keeping one of their prized assets might have been helped by Arnautovic's quiet showing at Euro 2016, where Austria bowed out in the group stages.
But manager Mark Hughes was driven to get the deal done by the fear of seeing the former Werder Bremen forward line up for another club at the peak of his powers.
"Marko's going to be a big player for us for years to come," the manager told the club's official website.
"He's 27 years of age and is coming into the best years of his career and if he had left it wouldn't have been great seeing him donning the colours of another team as he goes into those key years. We're going to get the benefit of his best years.
"It dragged on for a long time and he was well within his rights to explore his options with his family and advisors but deep down I think Marko always wanted to stay here and progress his career.
"He's got a good group of players around him, he knows we're ambitious and he wants to be a part of what we are trying to achieve.
"I think Marko understood that he has something really good here. He's always been very appreciative of what we've been able to do for him and obviously vice versa what he has done for the team and group.
"He's well liked and I just felt it was important that we got him to recommit."