Gary O’Neil warns Arnautovic against a move to China
Former West Ham midfielder Gary O’Neil believes that striker Marko Arnautovic will be ending his career from a competitive point of view if he moves to the Chinese Super League in January.
The 29-year-old Austrian has been the subject of a £35 million bid from Chinese club Shanghai SIPG but West Ham have rejected the offer and are keen to keep hold of their star man.
“It’s like what happened with [Dimitri] Payet, Arnautovic will have all the power in this situation,” O’Neil told talkSPORT 2.
“But if he goes to China he’s ending his career competitively.”
While O’Neil has warned Arnautovic against a move to China, the striker’s brother Danijel, who is also his agent, is understood to be furious over West Ham’s rejection of the bid from China.
“West Ham bought Marko for peanuts. They paid £20m for him, which is nothing in the current market,” read Danijel’s statement, which he gave to talkSPORT.
“They bought him to keep them in the Premier League last season and he did that.
“He took every award at the club; best player, signing of the season and the players’ award.
“Now West Ham have a fantastic offer. It is close to double what they paid for him.
“He wants to go to a new market and challenge for titles. This is what he wants.
“It is his great desire that West Ham accept the offer from China.
“He knows the West Ham fans love him and he has a special connection with them, but things move on, this is the world of sport, and he hopes they can understand.
“Marko is professional and is preparing himself for the Arsenal game.
“He will give 100 per cent for West Ham. That is Marko. He will never change.
“Until he is no longer a West Ham player, he will give everything to the club. He hopes the fans can respect his wishes.”
Danijel’s comments prompted West Ham to make a terse statement, making clear their unwillingness to do business.
“Marko Arnautovic has a contract and we fully expect him to honour it,” it read.
Shanghai SIPG may return with a fresh offer for Arnautovic, who has also been linked with Chelsea and West Ham might have a fight on their hands to keep hold of him with three weeks of the transfer window to go.