Report: Jose Mourinho Scouts £40M Marko Arnautovic as Austria Beat Russia

Rory Marsden@@roomarsdenFeatured ColumnistMay 31, 2018

West Ham United's Austrian midfielder Marko Arnautovic (L) vies with Manchester United's English defender Chris Smalling during the English Premier League football match between West Ham United and Manchester United at The London Stadium, in east London on May 10, 2018. (Photo by Ian KINGTON / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or 'live' services. Online in-match use limited to 75 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications. /         (Photo credit should read IAN KINGTON/AFP/Getty Images)
IAN KINGTON/Getty Images

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho attended Austria's 1-0 victory over 2018 FIFA World Cup hosts Russia on Wednesday, reportedly to scout West Ham United forward Marko Arnautovic

According to the Daily Mail's Chris Wheeler and MailOnline's Spencer Morgan, Mourinho is looking to find cover for Romelu Lukaku and believes the 29-year-old could be his man, with Mario Mandzukic of Juventus also said to be on United's radar.

The imposing forward would cost around £40 million, but the Hammers have said he is not for sale.

Per GianlucaDiMarzio.com (via Callum Vurley in the Daily Star), Mourinho also had his eye on CSKA Moscow star Aleksandr Golovin, who is preparing to represent Russia at the World Cup.

The 22-year-old midfielder could help to bolster United's engine room after the retirement of Michael Carrick and potential departure of Marouane Fellaini, whose contract is set to expire this summer. 

Arnautovic set up Alessandro Schopf for the only goal of the game at the Tivoli Stadium as Austria condemned Russia to their sixth consecutive game without a victory.

He enjoyed a fine 2017/18 season with West Ham, bagging 11 goals and six assists in 31 appearances. All of them came after former United manager David Moyes' appointment in November. 

LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 19: Manager of Manchester United Jose Mourinho gestures during the Emirates FA Cup Final between Chelsea and Manchester United at Wembley Stadium on May 19, 2018 in London, England.  (Photo by Chris Brunskill Ltd/Getty Images)
Chris Brunskill Ltd/Getty Images

Arnautovic played under Mourinho at Inter Milan and boasts many of the qualities the Portuguese typically covets, namely power, aggression and physicality in the penalty box.

However, he is hardly the calibre of player United fans would have been hoping to see their club linked with.

The 2017/18 campaign was only the second season of his career in which he hit double figures for league goals.

He is versatile, able to play as a No. 9 or on either flank, but it is difficult to see how he would add more to the United side than the likes of Alexis Sanchez, Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial.

The Manchester Evening News' Samuel Luckhurst suggested it would be a "logical" signing for United but was still sceptical:

Samuel Luckhurst @samuelluckhurst

Don't think #mufc should sign Arnautovic but, in his defence, some of the back-up striker names they've asked about are more underwhelming than than the battering rams Chelsea were considering.

United likely have a busy summer ahead of them if they are to bridge the 19-point gap to Premier League champions Manchester City next term.

Mourinho will be looking to get business done early, and with Austria having missed out on qualification for the World Cup, talks with Arnautovic could begin imminently if West Ham were to accept an offer.