As tension and frustration simmered at the London Stadium for much of 2017/18, the West Ham board finally seem to be making progress in their relationship with fans thanks to a promising transfer window. However, losing Marko Arnautovic could mean that their hard work is quickly forgotten.
TalkSPORT report that Manchester United and Roma are monitoring the Austrian, who was the club’s stand-out performer last campaign as he lead the line with pace and power in attack where others, including the likes of Javier Hernandez and Andy Carroll, struggled for consistency and fitness.
Manuel Pellegrini has already made it clear that he wants Arnautovic to play a key role in his squad, having talked him up throughout the pre-season campaign, with Arnautovic already having proven to be a matchwinner in a friendly against League One side Wycombe Wanderers.
“I can’t say I’ve been impressed by Arnautovic, because I know him. For the three years I was at Manchester City I played a lot of times against him and he was always a good player who could do different things. Maybe last season was his best season in England, especially in the second half of the season. He demonstrated how important he can be. He’s always running, he supports the ball and he scores. If he can repeat the second half that he had last season, he will be a top player.”
Deals for the likes of Andriy Yarmolenko, Felipe Anderson and Jack Wilshere have got fans excited in east London, but none of them offer the goal threat that Arnautovic has provided since joining the club a year ago and the investment by the board would be undermined if it is all funded by the sale of a key man.
It would be a humiliating blow for Pellegrini too, to lose such a fundamental option in his squad so early on in his tenure and one which could lead to some tense talks between him and the club’s owners having made the move back to the Premier League.
The 29-year-old may well attract attention from elsewhere and, as he made clear last summer, will not hesitate to force a move if he thinks it is in his interest, but the Hammers must ensure that he does not depart this summer.
Having strengthened in goal, in defence, in midfield and out wide, losing their best forward would be a bitter pill to swallow and would take West Ham right back to square one after a summer of promise.