One of the most eye-catching deals of the summer centres on Marko Arnautovic, who has completed a move from Stoke City to West Ham United. The Austrian international has become the most expensive player in the Hammers’ history and also joins fellow new recruits Pablo Zabaleta and Joe Hart. Javier Hernandez is expected to finalise his transfer to the London Stadium in the coming days, as Slaven Bilic continues his revolution at the East London outfit.
Few people bat an eyelid at transfer fees these days, which continue to rise year on year. But £20 million for Arnautovic – which could rise to £25 million including add-ons, according to The Guardian – should be questioned. After moving to Stoke from Weder Bremen in 2013, Arnautovic scored 22 Premier League goals in 125 appearances.
That is hardly setting the world alight for a player who was used as a the main focal point of the team. His best return was 2015/16, in which he scored 11 goals. In no other campaign did he reach double figures for the Potters. In many ways, he flattered to deceive.
Compare the price West Ham have paid for Arnautovic with what they have agreed with Bayer Leverkusen for Hernandez. BBC Sport claim he is costing them £16 million – that’s up to £9 million less than the former Stoke striker.
Hernandez is a goal machine and a fans’ favourite. Although his spell at Manchester United was not as successful as he would have liked, he still scored 59 goals in all competitions for the Red Devils. But it was since swapping the Premier League for the Bundesliga that he really shone, averaging a goal every other game. That is a fine return in a very competitive division.
A player’s value is determined by what a club is willing to pay and West Ham patently believe Arnautovic is worth £25 million. The Hammers were goal-shy last season, as Andy Carroll and Andre Ayew both struggled with injury. Bilic has identified this as an area in need of drastic improvement and more competition.
Arnautovic will provide this – and complement Hernandez – but there is no evidence that he can be a 15-goal-a-season striker. Surely for £25 million, that is the very least West Ham supporters should expect?