Marko Arnautovic was linked with a move to China in January and West Ham United have not been the same since.
When Arnautovic deemed himself ‘not in the right frame of mind’ to play away at Bournemouth, he killed his relationship with a large section of Hammers fans.
According to the likes of The Telegraph West Ham rejected a £35million bid for the Austrian ‘out of hand’.
The Hammers hierarchy wanted nearer £50 million.
In the end Arnautovic ended up not only staying but signing an improved deal – despite his agent and brother Danijel telling the world he wanted out (talkSPORT).
Arnautovic saga impacted West Ham
That only served to enrage fans further as did the clumsy way it was announced. The new contract was trumpeted moments after West Ham crashed out of the most wide open FA Cup in decades. At the hands of League Two-bound AFC Wimbledon no less.
Further salt was added to the wound when it emerged that had denied fans a mouth-watering tie against bitter rivals Millwall in the next round – full story here.
It has lumbered Manuel Pellegrini with a player whose heart does not seem to be in it.
A player that has barely featured since and who has been ineffectual when he has.
Noble moves to reassure angry fans
Pellegrini, his captain Mark Noble and veteran Pablo Zabaleta have all publicly admitted the Arnautovic saga caused issues in the West Ham dressing room.
“Up to now we’ve not been consistent enough,” Noble told whufc.com.
“I do believe that will improve because the transfer window is closed now and hopefully players who could have departed know they’re going to be here now.
“One of the other players (linked with a move away) was Marko Arnautovic, but he’s been as good as gold.
‘January hasn’t been great for him’
“Obviously, January hasn’t been great for him, because he’s been injured and we had the China stories. But I’m hoping now we will see the best of him for the final three months of the season.”
‘January has not been great for him’? Many supporters would argue January was brilliant for Arnautovic. As a result of those ‘China stories’ the striker engineered an increase on his £100,000 per week salary.
Of course this could be just the captain trying his hand at a bit of positive PR. After all it is in everyone’s interests to build bridges until the end of the season.
The Austrian is expected to get his move then.
But many Hammers fans feel the club missed a trick not offloading him when they had the chance – read full story here.