Marko Arnautovic has established himself as an indispensable component of West Ham’s squad since his arrival from Stoke City in 2017.
When Arnautovic is in full flow he performs with the brute power of an oversized child on a school playground, bulldozing his way through the opposition with an unrivalled determination, as if nobody is willing to challenge his physical and technical superiority.
His unique set of attributes come hand in hand with an arrogance and fearlessness which make him the best attacker outside of the top-six; strikers lacking a mean streak often struggle at this level, take Alvaro Morata for example.
But Arnautovic’s problems with injury and reported interest from outside the club suggest that Manuel Pellegrini would be wise to consider signing another fiery attacker to bolster his options.
And, according to a recent report from the Daily Mirror, Pellegrini might just have a dream opportunity to do just that, as it was revealed that Mario Balotelli is free to leave Nice next month after falling out with Patrick Vieira.
Balotelli’s contract is due to expire in June 2019 so West Ham have a perfect opportunity to sign the Italian on a cut-price deal next month.
Natural reservations are likely to emerge among the Hammers faithful due to Balotelli’s chequered history, but the success he has enjoyed in France suggests he’s well worth a gamble if the price is right.
This season aside, Balotelli has scored 43 goals from 66 appearances for Nice, which represents his highest return for a single club during his career.
Stylistically speaking there are plenty of parallels to be drawn between Balotelli and Arnautovic: they are technically astute on the ball, deadly finishers, capable of single-handedly changing the game, commanding in the air and hot-headed characters.
With a player at the spearhead of the attack of Balotelli’s quality and the likes of Arnautovic, Felipe Anderson and Andriy Yarmolenko playing off him, Pellegrini would have a forward unit to genuinely strike fear into the opposition.
There is no question that Pellegrini would take a headline-making risk by bringing the controversial forward back to the top-flight, but it’s a decision which might just hand him another Arnautovic-type player to utilise in his attack.
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