Selling Marko Arnautovic

  • by Tross
  • Filed: Thursday, 10th January 2019

First off, if he were to be sold in January, Marko Arnautovic is comfortably a ?60million player in this window - accordingly that somewhat narrows his list of potential suitors, given the price tag.

But the who and where conversation, or the aftermath of how we'd plug what would be a potentially ship-scuttling hole is not one that I'm going to explore here. I think, as West Ham fans, we'd do well to take a few minutes to remember what exactly we have got here in Arnautovic.

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If we can agree that it's a given that the vast majority of football supporters are well known for viewing their players and teams through the rose tinted (or in our case claret and blue tinted) specs, I'd politely suggest now's perhaps a good time to remove them introspect the Marko show, or Arnie as we have come to more fondly know him.

As a character, he has been described as petulant, arrogant and childlike by previous managers, and you'll struggle to find fans at any of his previous clubs that hold him in much regard at all.

He struggled to make the grade when he played at Inter at just 19 under one of the then best managers on the planet who became exasperated with his antics. Four years later, after a series of bust ups with his captain, being caught speeding with a team mate drove the decision to not offer him a new contract and cut him loose. He believed he was capable of better things - he still hadn't matured - and he went to Stoke.

A worthy point of note here is that there can be little doubt that the ongoing speculation around him has been driven by his brother and agent Danijel, who would've seen a great improvement in his own quality of life post Arnie's signing for West Ham, and would again benefit financially from a further transfer of his player/brother.

The negotiated fee for dear Arnie rises to ?25million and he's on ?130k per week, if reports are to be believed - a far cry from the touted ?2.5million fee/30k per week Danijel helped negotiate when handling his brother's transfer from Werder Bremen to Stoke.

Arnautovic's start at Stoke, (like at West Ham) was slow, but after being given a lifeline into the Premier League by Mark Hughes, and becoming a fan favourite (though notorious for his Di Canio-esque no-shows in games), he performed well for the club. His legacy there however (incredibly in his own words) is that they were "lucky to have him".

Celebrating goals against teams you've previously played for has long been held in bad taste with football fans, but such was his jubilance at scoring against his old club in the 0-3 reverse in the season Stoke were relegated he prompted his former manager to acknowledge his lack of respect and gratitude to his former club with a few choice expletives.

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Again, on introspection around his departure, despite contract increases and further proposed increases, Arnie and his elder brother held an insistence that he became Stoke's highest-paid player at the time, looking to break Stoke's ceiling to do so. Shortly after he left Stoke. (Is any of this sounding familiar yet?)

I also find it difficult to believe that he has no input and simply abides by his brother's guidance and governance - a man who speaks six languages and has demonstrated his arrogance throughout his career is quite a way from your stereotyped, single-brain-celled footballer.

That the transfer rumour merry-go-round started shortly after a reported request for a ?70,000 a week pay rise by his brother to the club was denied is surely just a coincidence - right?

What I find particularly disappointing is that we haven't heard directly from Marko (who is quick enough to throw up a crossed Hammers or point to the badge when all is well).

Why exactly has he not come out to say something along the lines of: "Hey guys, I am thrilled that in my time at WHUFC I have been given the coaching, support and confidence to start realising my potential and as part of a quality team, I am playing some of the best football of my career. I am happy to be here, I am earning twice as much as I was at my last club, have a great contract and want to bring the success to this club that is long overdue given its amazing fans"... or words to that effect.

Instead, we get: "My brother handles all my business". Well okay then Marko, thanks for that.

Arnautovic is an Austrian through birth right (the newly-crowned Austrian Player of the Year, in fact) but he does have a Serbian heritage. And if you've ever had the opportunity to work with Serbians, you will soon find they are an incredibly tough and resilient race of people.

It got me thinking about what the Serbs call "inat"... a word that has no direct equivalent in English, but is best described as "an attitude of proud defiance, stubbornness and self-preservation - sometimes to the detriment of everyone else or even oneself."

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If I had to choose one word to define Marko Arnautovic, I'd struggle to find one that is more fitting when looking over his career to date.

The birth of his daughters may have matured him, and he isn't out racing cars on the A13 or turning up late to training, but the defiance that we all so love to see when he sports our beloved claret and blue and that aggressive all in style that when channelled the right way thrills us when he bosses defenders and smashes the ball into the back of the net.

Well, I'm just no longer under the illusion that he does that for anybody else apart from himself and that in his mind, we are little more than just a chapter in the Marko Arnautovic story.

He doesn't do loyalty, he does Marko Arnautovic. Perhaps the early career comparisons to the mighty Zlatan Ibrahimovic went to his head a bit but he'd do well to remember by the time he was 30, Zlatan had won seven League titles, and eight Cups, including the FIFA Club World Cup and the UEFA Super Cup as well as being named the Player of the Season three times in Serie A.

Danny Ings, Glen Murray and Aleksandar Mitrovic have all scored more goals than Mr "I want another 70k per week" in the League this season.

So in closure here, despite having been greatly entertained and having enjoyed his performances for us, I find myself looking at the player and feeling like he actually owes this club something. And, despite a good run of form last season and another good run of form this season, he's not actually delivered anything back over and above what I'd expect a player on his wages to deliver.

He certainly doesn't warrant a further pay-rise at this stage of the season.

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Arnautovic joined this great football club (supposedly) because it had more ambition that Stoke. Well, I'd like to see him do his bit here as part of the investment made to realise that ambition. How about he knuckles down and tells that brother of his to come back at the end of season once he's bagged 20 goals and has an FA Cup Winners medal?

Because right now mate, in my eyes (minus the claret and blue specs as previously mentioned) you're good... but you've not achieved anything here and haven't been here long enough to deserve anything more than what you've been given. This is a meritocracy sunshine, you have to earn the right here.

If you don't want to do that, ?60million is a good return on a player that turns 30 next month - and we'll still finish in the top half without him.

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