West Ham are expected to return with an improved offer for Marko Arnautovic after Stoke City rejected the Hammers’ initial £15m bid.
Potteries boss Mark Hughes has said the Austrian winger/forward isn’t for sale at any price but that is at odds with chairman Peter Coates, who says Arnautovic will be sold if the terms are right.
The 28-year-old only signed a four-year contract extension last month but after hearing of West Ham’s rejected bid, he imediately handed in a transfer request at the Bet365 Stadium and asked to leave.
As a statement of intent, Hughes picked Arnautovic to play in a pre-season friendly for Stoke in Switzerland on Tuesday night but he was subbed off with a suspected knee injury.
So, what do the Hammers need to do next now their first bid has been rejected?
Improve the offer to Stoke
Slaven Bilic is a keen admirer of Arnautovic and if he wants to get his man, he will have to agree to a better offer. £25m should do the job for Stoke, who will be unlikely to turn down a £23m profit on the player they signed from Werder Bremen for £2m back in 2013.
Hughes can say all he wants that the player won’t be sold but money talks and a team like Stoke won’t turn down that amount of money for one of their assets.
There’s little to no point in offering just a couple million quid more to Stoke as they won’t even entertain the idea. Make an offer they can’t refuse.
Agree personal terms
Arnautovic has handed in a transfer request to Stoke, showing he is keen to join the Hammers so the club must make him and offer that suits him.
The Austrian is on a reported £80,000 a week at the Bet365 so the Hammers will have to at least match that, maybe offer him a bit more in bonuses, to make sure a deal gets over the line.
West Ham are going to have to start pushing up the wages they will offer players. Only Andy Carroll is in triple figures on £100,000 a week at the club. We aren’t saying Arnautovic needs that amount, but he’s not going to accept less than he was on at Stoke. If West Ham harbour ambitions of climbing into the higher echelons of the Premier League, wages need to be bigger.
Just get the deal done!
West Ham fans are concerned at the lack of signings so far this summer, only Pablo Zabaleta has arrived on a free transfer from Man City so far during the window.
We still expect the Hammers to complete another deal or two – they can’t afford not to – and completing a deal, having missed out on Henry Onyekuru and Kelechi Iheanacho, would appease the fan base just a tad.
The pressure is still on the West Ham board to complete some signings as the squad needs strengthening and getting Arnautovic over the line is a step in the right direction.
Solve an Andre Ayew shaped problem
The Hammers player most under threat from Arnautovic’s potential arrival has got to be Andre Ayew.
The £20.1m record signing last summer has struggled to have an impact at the London Stadium, not helped by his serious thigh injury picked up on debut against Chelsea which kept him out for four months.
Ayew showed glimpses towards the end of the season but also drifted out of games having little impact at all. Slaven Blic needs to decide whether Ayew will be kept on and Ayew needs to decide if he will stay and fight for his place. Arnautovic doesn’t strike people as someone that will settle for a spot on the bench.
Find the right position for Arnautovic
If Bilic does get his man and Arnautovic signs, he is getting a versatile player who can play anywhere across the front three.
He prefers playing off the left, which is a position that Manuel Lanzini has been occupying for the past season or so and there’s no way he will be making way out of the team for Arnautovic.
Lanzini can move inside to play directly behind the central striker whoever that may be – it could be Arnautovic or another new arrival – so that means the Austrian could feasibly play in his favoured position.
Michail Antonio won’t be dislodged from the right hand side when he is fit, and that’s why Andre Ayew’s spot has so much pressure on it with Arnautovic’s potential arrival.