When Marko Arnautovic made his move to Stoke City in the summer of 2013, a fiery character was introduced to the Premier League. Over the last 2 seasons, he has shown glimpses of real talent but hasn’t been able to sustain that type of form over a period of time.
However, since the start of the 2015-16 campaign, for the first time the forward has shown real quality in the majority of his performances. This can be put down to a number of factors, which will ultimately decide how much of an asset he can become at the Britannia Stadium.
One of the main contributors to his improved form is down to the acquisitions of Bojan and Xherdan Shaqiri. All exciting players, Mark Hughes deploys them in a front 3, allowing them to interchange throughout games. This was on show in Decembers 2-0 win over Manchester City, with Arnautovic scoring both through two exquisite balls from his Swiss colleague.
The three linked well in a game that gave The Potters a lot to smile about. It was clear to see that Arnautovic was thoroughly enjoying himself, beaming with confidence on the pitch.
The players that currently surround Arnautovic are of a great calibre, which has transformed the squad in comparison with what it was under manager, Tony Pulis. Xherdan Shaqiri, Bojan, Ibrahim Afellay and Arnautovic himself are all players who have won the Champions League in their careers.
Although these players didn’t have a massive contribution in their European Cup success, they’ve seen their former clubs play football of the highest quality, and grind out results no matter what.
These are characteristics Stoke City need; especially if the club have aspirations of playing European football. If these players keep showing the same mentality, then Arnautovic can become the man that his squad members can look up to.
His potential at Stoke is down to the time that manager Mark Hughes has given him. Hughes has always been a big fan of the player since he took the risk of signing him from German outfit Werder Bremen for a fee of £2million. On the day Hughes signed him he was extremely hopeful, saying – “People will very quickly see what an outstanding talent he is.
In terms of his power and his pace, which is something I think we need in the squad, he ticks all the boxes.” He was dropped from the side during the 2014-15 campaign, scoring only once in 29 league appearances. However, he’s been a prominent figure in the squad since August and has seemingly been able to remove “the bad boy of Austrian football” tagline from his game.
Hughes has constantly expressed his approval of Arnautovic, but his progress in English football is down to whether he is lured into signing a new contract with The Potters. Since the opening of the January transfer window, Arnautovic has been rumoured to leave Stoke City, with reports that PSG have been monitoring the player for the last two years.
The French side could sign him for £7.5million. However, the Premier League club are keen to keep hold of the 26-year-old, who has seven goals and three assists this season. He’s also played consistently well against clubs of a high reputation. He scored the only goal of Stoke’s victory over champions Chelsea on 7 November, and scored a sublime goal from outside the box in a 2-0 Boxing Day victory over Manchester United.
His ability to run in behind the opposition has been all to see this season, which has helped take his game to the next level. The question that always arises is – Can the keys players stay fit?
If they can, Arnautovic should be able to keep combining with the likes of Shaqiri and Bojan and push on as a rising star of the Premier League. If Mark Hughes can keep him past the current transfer window, we should see him continue to flourish into a top star at the Britannia for the foreseeable future.
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