Sport Soccer

Wednesday 21 February 2018

Mark Hughes 'comfortable' with Marko Arnautovic situation

Marko Arnautovic has scored eight goals for Stoke this season.
Marko Arnautovic has scored eight goals for Stoke this season.

Stoke boss Mark Hughes has stressed his belief Marko Arnautovic is best off staying with the club and insists he is "comfortable" with the current situation relating to the forward's future.

The Potters are in talks over a new contract with Arnautovic, whose present deal runs to 2017 and is understood to contain a £12.5million buy-out clause that will become active when the final year of the agreement begins this summer.

Reports last month suggested the 26-year-old, one of Stoke's star performers this term, had rejected an offer from them while holding out for one that would make him their highest-paid player.

Amid talk of interest in Arnautovic from Paris St Germain, Hughes at that time in early January emphasised both his desire to keep the Austria international and confidence that the negotiations would result in a new contract being signed.

And on Friday, with it having just emerged that the buy-out clause exists, Hughes said: "Every contract is structured in a different way.

"From my point of view it's clear that we want Marko to stay here - and I think he's best served staying here.

"What he gets here he probably hasn't got from other places he has been at in terms of encouragement and the opportunity to evolve and develop as a player.

"He's obviously going to get a lot of interest because he's a good player, but sometimes you've got to look beyond that.

"If you do make a decision to leave, you've got to understand what you are giving up.

"He's an intelligent boy. We are still negotiating and I'm quite comfortable with where we are with it.

"It's ongoing and will continue to be I'm sure, maybe up until the summer - if so, so be it.

"We still think we have something we can offer him he will be delighted with."

Hughes was speaking at his press conference ahead of Saturday's Barclays Premier League home clash with Everton.

The contest at the Britannia Stadium follows a four-match sequence on the road for the Potters that saw them lose 3-0 at both Leicester and Manchester United in the league, either side of exiting two cup competitions.

Hughes, looking for an upturn in fortunes, could hand a debut to the club's new record signing Giannelli Imbula, the £18.3million transfer deadline day recruit from Porto.

"He could be involved," Hughes said of midfielder Imbula.

"He has only been with us a couple of days in terms of the playing group, but he is a good player, he is itching to play and it is my intention to involve him at some point as quickly as possible.

"The sooner he gets involved, the sooner he can understand what the Premier League is about."

Philipp Wollscheid (calf) was forced off early in Tuesday's loss at United but Hughes - definitely still without three other defensive options in Ryan Shawcross (back), Geoff Cameron (ankle) and Marc Wilson (knee) - is hopeful the German might be able to face the Toffees.

Hughes also suggested Shawcross and Cameron could be fit for the trip to Bournemouth on February 13.

Press Association

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