Marko Arnautovic has established himself as the focal point of West Ham United’s attack in the past twelve months, with alternative options falling well below the standard he has set at centre-forward.
The aggressive Austrian may well have arrived at the London Stadium due to his menacing performances as an inside forward, but his form through the middle would suggest the full extent of his ability remained a mystery until he joined West Ham.
But an over-reliance on Arnautovic’s flair in the final-third simply cannot persist for the entirety of the current campaign considering his recent injury problems.
Indeed, Arnautovic has returned early from international duty after scoring the winner against Northern Ireland on Friday, according to the London Evening Standard.
The same report claims that the Austrian powerhouse has been playing through the pain barrier in recent weeks, and his battle against pain may well explain West Ham’s reported interest in Jermaine Defoe.
The 36-year-old Bournemouth striker and former Hammer was once one of the most clinical poachers in English footbll, but he is well past his best and a player who Pellegrini would be foolish to consider signing.
Pellegrini may not be blessed with a strong contingent of attacking players, but with Javier Hernandez and Lucas Perez at his disposal and Andy Carroll still to return from injury, he has absolutely no reason to pursue the English veteran.
Hernandez (valued at £13 million by Transfermarkt) has been missing in recent weeks due to glandular fever and his absence has left Pellegrini with Perez as his only alternative at centre-forward.
But Hernandez scored in a practice match against QPR over the weekend ahead of the visit of Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday and he should be back in the squad for the clash.
Whilst the temptation to sign a player of Defoe’s calibre naturally carries a weight of appeal, the West Ham hierarchy need to focus on the long-term future and trust in Hernandez in the event of Arnautovic’s absence, despite the fact he has underachieved since returning to English football.
Pellegrini may well have his eye on a short-term deal for Defoe but Hernandez’s return suggests his interest is misplaced.
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