No­ble: I un­der­stand why Ar­nau­tovic wants to leave West Ham

The Daily Telegraph - Sport - - Total Football -

Mark No­ble, the West Ham United cap­tain, hopes Marko Ar­nau­tovic will stay at the club but said it was “re­al­is­tic” for the Aus­trian to be con­sid­er­ing a big-money move to China.

West Ham last week re­jected a £35mil­lion bid from a Chi­nese Su­per League club, be­lieved to be cham­pi­ons Shang­hai SIPG, for Ar­nau­tovic, whose brother and agent has said he wants to leave.

Ar­nau­tovic ap­peared to be wav­ing good­bye to the West Ham fans when he was sub­sti­tuted dur­ing Satur­day’s 1-0 win against Arse­nal here.

“I spoke to him [be­fore the match] and he said ‘Mark, what­ever hap­pens, it is out of my hands, but as long as I play for this team, I am go­ing to give 100 per cent’,” No­ble said.

“You saw that [against Arse­nal]. Marko has got a rep­u­ta­tion of maybe be­ing a lit­tle sulky but, let me tell you, he is a great lad around the dress­ing room. He is fan­tas­tic to have around there. Do we hope he doesn’t go? Of course, he’s prob­a­bly our best player.

“But I al­ways think it is such a short ca­reer. You work un­til you are 35 and then you have got to find an­other liv­ing. You go to China for five years on £400,000 a week, you don’t.

“He is a fan­tas­tic player and I hope he stays, but we will see. He’s a West Ham player for now and I think he showed how much this club means to him.”

Ar­nau­tovic’s sit­u­a­tion has been com­pared to that of Dim­itri Payet, who left West Ham in 2017 after go­ing on strike.

“I think it’s a com­pletely dif­fer­ent cir­cum­stance,” No­ble said. “We didn’t keep Dimi and he was our best player at the time. I’m hop­ing this one is a bit dif­fer­ent.

“If you are re­al­is­tic, you can al­ways see the player’s point of view. He’s got kids and he wants to se­cure their fu­ture. Ob­vi­ously, he is earn­ing fan­tas­tic money here, but the money in China is a dif­fer­ent ket­tle of fish.”

If Ar­nau­tovic does leave, the blow may be soft­ened by the resur­gence of Samir Nasri, who im­pressed on his first Premier League start for the club.

Nasri signed at the end of De­cem­ber, on the day he com­pleted a dop­ing ban re­ceived for us­ing an in­tra­venous-drip treat­ment.

The French­man, who was un­able to play for 13 months, said it was “the best feel­ing so far in my life to be back”.

He added: “I started ques­tion­ing my­self, if I would be able to play foot­ball. At the start, they [Uefa] gave six months, on the last day to ap­peal they ap­pealed and Uefa asked for two years and the World Anti-dop­ing Agency asked for four years. When you’re 30 years old, you think your ca­reer is over be­cause no one is go­ing to give you a chance after four years of ban. It was al­most like be­ing de­pressed.

“I knew that I would have a club, but maybe not in the Premier League. After I lost one year, I didn’t want to go some­where ‘ex­otic’. I wanted to be back in one of the big­gest leagues in the world and prove to my­self that I’ve still got it. I wanted to leave a legacy for my son, who never saw me play. He’s 11 months old.”

Nasri set up De­clan Rice, the man of the match, to score the win­ner against an Arse­nal team who are strug­gling for form away from home.

Unai Emery’s side are now with­out a win in five away games in the league and de­fender Sokratis be­moaned the lack of chances they were able to cre­ate here.

“We did not con­trol the game bet­ter than them,” Sokratis said. “We did not cre­ate chances or fin­ish them off. It is not about the two shots on tar­get – look at how many chances we would have had if we had done bet­ter with the last pass. Look at how many chances we had to make for the last pass. This is the prob­lem.”

The fu­ture of Me­sut Ozil, once again left out of the en­tire squad de­spite be­ing fit, re­mains a long­stand­ing is­sue for Arse­nal and Emery. “For me, he is like an­other player,” in­sisted Emery. “Some­times he is help­ing us, at other mo­ments not help­ing us be­cause of his in­jury or be­cause maybe the match is not for him. But he is a good player.”

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