Monday 18 December 2017

Marko Arnautovic hands in transfer request after Stoke reject £15m West Ham bid

Stoke's Marko Arnautovic joined the club from Werder Bremen in 2013
Stoke's Marko Arnautovic joined the club from Werder Bremen in 2013

Jason Burt

Marko Arnautovic has submitted a transfer request after Stoke City rejected a £15million bid from West Ham United.

The 28-year-old Austrian has emerged as one of West Ham’s prime targets and is greatly admired by their manager Slaven Bilic. It remains to be seen how hard he now pushes for a move away from Stoke.

Arnautovic held talks with Stoke manager Mark Hughes last week when he informed him of his desire to leave and has now put that in writing.

Stoke do not want to sell Arnautovic, who is contracted until 2020, but are braced for an improved offer of around £20million from West Ham and may have to let him go.

West Ham co-chairman David Gold has already publicly stated that the club’s main targets this summer are a centre-forward and a forward who can play wide and Arnautovic is regarded as a key part of a re-shaped front-line.

Bilic would love to partner Arnautovic with Javier Hernandez – and with Michail Antonio, who signed a new contract at the end of last season, on the other flank – but West Ham are unsure they want to meet the Mexican’s wage demands.

Hernandez was close to joining West Ham two years ago when he left Manchester United but opted for a move to Bayer Leverkusen instead where he is believed to earn around £125,000-a-week.

The 29-year-old can now leave the German club for a fixed fee of about £12million and is keen to return to the Premier League and would like to go to West Ham although he also wants to maintain the wages he currently earns. If West Ham met his demands it would make him the highest-paid player in the club’s history.

West Ham will continue to push to sign Arnautovic with the club wanting to add more power and ‘personality’ to the team for next season. It is possible that they would offer players, also, in exchange for Arnautovic.

West Ham have also expressed interest in a number of other forward players including Arsenal’s Olivier Giroud, who is also wanted by Everton and Marseille, and Michy Batshuayi who may be available on a season-long loan from Chelsea.

They have also failed in moves, of more than £20million, this summer for the Cologne striker Anthony Modeste and Villarreal forward Cedric Bakumbu but it appears that Arnautovic is their number one target.

Stoke are currently in Switzerland as part of their pre-season preparations and are due to play their first match against Neuchatel Xamax this evening after which Hughes will be asked about Arnautovic’s future.

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