West Ham forward Marko Arnautovic wants to leave the club this January, having been offered a monster contract by a Chinese Super League club.
The Austrian had been heavily linked with a move away from the London Stadium in the past couple of months, with Manchester United and Chelsea both rumoured to be interested in the player. It appears that he finds the offer from an unnamed Chinese club as the most appealing, according to a statement from his agent.
Danijel Arnautovic, who is also the player's brother, sent a strongly worded statement to talkSPORT revealing the player's intention to move to the Far East.
West Ham bought Marko for peanuts. They paid £20m for him, which is nothing in the current market.
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.
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.
While the statement expresses the player's desire to win trophies, it is hard to believe that any potential move would not be motivated by money. Arnautovic is rumoured to have a £200,000 per-week offer on the table, one that would be hard to turn for a player approaching his 30th birthday.
The club were quick to respond with a very short statement of their own, making clear their feelings on any potential attempt from Arnautovic's attempts to engineer a move:
In response to the statement from the brother and agent of Marko Arnautovic this afternoon, the Club has issued the following: pic.twitter.com/6A2p3glFhg
— West Ham United (@WestHamUtd) January 10, 2019
While West Ham would certainly have the funds available to sign a replacement during this window, recruiting prolific strikers can be very difficult mid-season. Callum Wilson is believed to be their primary target, but it would likely take a huge offer to prise him away from Bournemouth.