Chi­nese take­away

Ar­nau­tovic ‘des­per­ate’ for Far East move

The Daily Telegraph - Sport - - Front Page - By Ja­son Burt CHIEF FOOT­BALL COR­RE­SPON­DENT

Marko Ar­nau­tovic has told West Ham United he wants to move to China this month – with the club im­me­di­ately re­spond­ing by is­su­ing a state­ment that the striker “is not for sale”.

West Ham have re­jected a £35mil­lion bid from a Chi­nese Su­per League club, be­lieved to be the cham­pi­ons Shang­hai SIPG, for the 29-year-old Aus­tria in­ter­na­tional.

Ar­nau­tovic’s agent and brother, Dani­jel, has is­sued a state­ment claim­ing that West Ham bought him for “peanuts” and should let him leave.

“West Ham bought Marko for peanuts. They paid £20mil­lion for him, which is noth­ing in the cur­rent mar­ket,” he said. “They bought him to keep them in the Premier League last sea­son and he did that. He took ev­ery award at the club: best player, sign­ing of the sea­son and the play­ers’ award.

“Now West Ham have a fan­tas­tic of­fer. It is close to dou­ble what they paid for him. He wants to go to a new mar­ket and chal­lenge for ti­tles. This is what he wants. It is his great de­sire that West Ham ac­cept the of­fer from China.”

The state­ment, is­sued to ra­dio sta­tion Talksport, went on: “He knows the West Ham fans love him and he has a spe­cial con­nec­tion with them, but things move on, this is the world of sport, and he hopes they can un­der­stand.

“Marko is pro­fes­sional and is prepar­ing him­self for the Ar­se­nal game. He will give 100 per cent for West Ham. That is Marko. He will never change. Un­til he is no longer a West Ham player, he will give ev­ery­thing to the club. He hopes the fans can re­spect his wishes.”

Within min­utes of the state­ment be­ing re­leased West Ham re­sponded. “Marko has a con­tract and we fully ex­pect him to hon­our it,” a spokesper­son said. “He is not for sale.”

West Ham signed Ar­nau­tovic for a fee that rises to £25 mil­lion – £20 mil­lion was the ini­tial pay­ment – from Stoke City in July 2017. He was made West Ham’s high­estearn­ing per­ma­nent player – at that time on-loan goal­keeper Joe Hart was paid more – and signed a fiveyear con­tract.

It is un­der­stood that Ar­nau­tovic is be­ing of­fered a sub­stan­tial pay rise to go to China, pos­si­bly as much as dou­ble his cur­rent salary. Shang­hai SIPG are the 2018 cham­pi­ons, whose squad in­cludes for­mer Chelsea mid­fielder Os­car and an­other for­mer Brazil in­ter­na­tional, Hulk. They have an­other Brazil­ian, Elke­son, and would have to move a player on should Ar­nau­tovic sign, as they have al­ready filled their al­lo­ca­tion of three for­eign play­ers.

There is scep­ti­cism from China ex­perts that such an of­fer could be funded, but West Ham have taken it se­ri­ously and are adamant that he will stay, at least un­til the end of this sea­son. They are braced for the pos­si­bil­ity of an im­proved of­fer.

West Ham are de­ter­mined not to have a re­run of the saga that led to Dim­itri Payet, a tal­is­man like Ar­nau­tovic, forc­ing a move to Mar­seille in Jan­uary 2017, which de­railed their cam­paign un­der Slaven Bilic, who signed Ar­nau­tovic as, ef­fec­tively, Payet’s re­place­ment.

West Ham man­ager Manuel Pel­le­grini, who coached He­bei China For­tune be­fore join­ing the club last sum­mer, said he was not sur­prised by the in­ter­est in Ar­nau­tovic, whom Jose Mour­inho was keen to sign be­fore he was sacked as Manch­ester United man­ager.

“We know Marko is a very good player so maybe a lot of clubs will want him to play for their team, but at the mo­ment he is a West Ham player and we want to keep him,” he said, ahead of the Premier League fix­ture at home to Ar­se­nal.

Un­set­tled: Marko Ar­nau­tovic could dou­ble his wages if he was to move

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.