West Ham United are experiencing Deja Vu this month two years after they sold Dimitri Payet to Marseille in a £25 million deal, but it appears that a solution to the Marko Arnautovic saga has been struck which will see him remain at the London Stadium.
According to a recent report from The London Evening Standard, West Ham have given the green light for the Austria international to leave the club in the summer window, however, crucially, the club remain fearful that he will depart before the end of February.
The window for Premier League clubs is due to close at the end of January but the Chinese window will remain open for business until the end of February, which could ensure an unhealthy and extended power struggle involving Arnautovic and the club’s hierarchy in a saga akin to that involving Payet which dominated the 2017 January window.
Despite the fact the Hammers are willing to be pragmatic with Arnautovic and allow him to leave in the summer, the rise of player power and the lure of a £300k per week contract in China may well leave them powerless to preventing his departure.
A summer move is one which makes sense for all parties involved: it allows the recruitment team time to scout the market and identify a worth replacement, grants Arnautovic his desired move and ensures that West Ham’s results do not suffer as a consequence of a mid-season exit.
Payet’s decision to leave the club in 2017 left a gaping creative void in the attacking midfield unit which the club struggled without in the remainder of the campaign and, while it must be considered that West Ham have greater strength in depth than they did two years ago, the loss of Arnautovic would undoubtedly represent a similar hammer blow to their ambitions for the season.
West Ham’s stance on Arnautovic’s future is wise under the circumstances, but it seems that their willingness to allow him to leave in the summer may not be enough to avoid a similar outcome to the saga which saw Payet leave for Marseille in 2017.
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