The Runner Sports

West Ham Add Record Signing Marko Arnautovic

In a move that has endeared him to West Ham United fans, now former Stoke City left winger Marko Arnautovic has joined West Ham for a club record fee of a rumored £25 million after asking to be moved to the East London team. Whispers had begun early in the offseason that manager Slaven Bilic desired the Austrian international to fill the void left by Dimitri Payet forcing his own move to Marseille in January, and Bilic has received his scoring threat for the left side.

What does Arnautovic add

After West Ham’s first preseason match against Austrian side Sturm Graz II –in which the Hammers failed to score on any of their sixteen scoring chances– Bilic revealed the team was not converting in training session either. Bilic noted when asked about the scoreless draw, “We are not scoring enough goals in training at the moment, so it was the same in the game.” Arnautovic certainly adds goal scoring ability to the team as he was second in team scoring for Stoke City last year with six goals, and has led the team in scoring since 2014. Arnautovic also added five assists, 110 crosses, and over 25 passes per game.

The added threat to score and pass from the left will take defensive attention away from the likes of Michail Antonio on the right side, and Manuel Lanzini in the center attacking midfield position, freeing up offense just by his presence. The need for a natural left winger was obvious in the second half of the 2015/2016 season. A constant criticism on manager Bilic last season was his decision to play players out of position. This meant natural right wingers/midfielders Michail Antonio, Robert Snodgrass, Sofaine Feghouli, and Andre Ayew all had time on the left wing through the second half of the season. Arnautovic adds the natural left winger to Bilic’s squad, helping to fill out the roster in a way that maximizes the team’s potential.

Bilic, who holds the position of national team manager for Serbia, had specifically targeted Arnautovic as his desired winger to add this offseason. Fans have been waiting for their former player and now manager to attract some elite Serbian and Balkan talent to the squad. While Arnautovic is a national player for Austria, he does have deep Serbian roots, as his last name suggests, and appears to be the first player Bilic has attracted to West Ham based on his nationality. Much like Lanzini playing a role in fellow Argentinian Pablo Zabaleta signing with West Ham this offseason, the trend of players recruiting their fellow national team members could continue here. West Ham has been linked with Southampton forward Dusan Tadic, a fellow Serbian to Bilic and partially to Arnautovic.

Final Thoughts

With a team record signing at £25 million, Marko Arnautovic surpasses previous record holder Andre Ayew at £20 million. He is 28 years old, and has signed a new four-year deal with West Ham upon agreeing on personal terms which will boost his reported weekly wages of £70,000 to a presumed fee that will make him a rival for the club’s most expensive player, nearing £100,000. This seems a bit drastic for a player who had a down season on goals from the season before, dropping to six goals from 11, and for a player that is criticized for his lack of two-way play.

However, with the insanity that has taken over transfer prices in the football world, a proven goal scoring winger with Premier League experience, that fills a specific need for his new club, is well worth the wages and transfer fee. Arnautovic’s multiple meetings with Stoke City management asking for them to allow him to leave for West Ham specifically suggests that he will look to impress with his new club and solidify his spot on a team headed up the league table. Arnautovic’s desire to join the club will make him a fan favorite quick, and add more attacking ability to a squad that desperately needs more fire power.

West Ham’s owners and manager are starting to spend money to fortify their team, a welcomed sight to every Hammers’ supporter. The elite additions of Zabaleta, loan keeper Joe Hart, and now Arnautovic, should show transfer targets that West Ham is willing to invest in quality players to legitimize their place in the Premier League, and more specifically, pave their way to the top-six.

Adam Smith
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Adam Smith

West Ham United Writer at The Runner Sports
Proud supporter of the Claret and Blue, West Ham United!
Actively interested in transfer news, match reports, developing story lines, and all things West Ham United!
Adam Smith
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