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Marko Arnautovic Responds to Manchester United's Rumoured Interest

Matt JonesFeatured ColumnistJune 1, 2018

Austrian midfielder Marko Arnautovic looks on during the training session in Klagenfurt, Austria, on June 1, 2018, one day ahead of the international friendly footbal match between Austria and Germany. (Photo by Johann GRODER / various sources / AFP) / Austria OUT        (Photo credit should read JOHANN GRODER/AFP/Getty Images)
JOHANN GRODER/Getty Images

Reported Manchester United transfer target Marko Arnautovic said it is a "great honour" that Jose Mourinho watched him in action on Wednesday for Austria.

According to Sky Sports News' Kaveh Solhekol, the Red Devils want to bring in the forward this summer. West Ham United are said to be unwilling to sell, although it's suggested £50 million may be enough to get a deal done.

When asked about Mourinho's recent attendance at the Austria vs. Russia friendly match by newspaper Kurier (h/t Richard Fay of the Manchester Evening News), the 29-year-old wasn't exactly dismissive.

"It is a great honour for our entire team that a coach like Mourinho is watching us," he said.

As relayed by the Full Time Devils Twitter account, Mourinho was on his own at the FIFA World Cup warm-up match:

Full Time DEVILS @FullTimeDEVILS

Mourinho spotted in the stands watching Arnautovic in action during Austria vs Russia... 👀 https://t.co/tBSYfHGtCf

Per Fay, the careers of Arnautovic and Mourinho did cross briefly during a time together at Inter Milan. While the coach went on to have tremendous success at the San Siro, the Austrian struggled and appeared as though he was never going to live up to his potential.

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During his time with Stoke City, and even early on at West Ham, it was apparent Arnautovic had extraordinary talent, although poor discipline or a lack of application would hold him back.

Arnautovic finished the season in brilliant form,
Arnautovic finished the season in brilliant form,Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

It was only when David Moyes decided to deploy Arnautovic at the point of the attack last season that he came alive. The forward relished the responsibility of leading the line, channeling all his attributes to devastating effect at times.

Squawka Football also noted the productivity of the player, something West Ham have not enjoyed in recent years:

Squawka Football @Squawka

Marko Arnautović is the first West Ham player to score 11 Premier League goals in a single season since Bobby Zamora in 2006/07. ⚒️ https://t.co/SiAoHsLxxp

While he's become a hero at the London Stadium, to do the same at Old Trafford would be a huge challenge for Arnautovic.

At West Ham, he's the focal point of the attack and the man the rest of the team looks to to lift them. At Old Trafford, he'd be another cog in a setup and, given Romelu Lukaku and Marcus Rashford are at the club, would be unlikely to start many games in his new centre-forward role.

Since Arnautovic has only been consistent for half a season, there are also question marks about how good he actually is still.

Alex Shaw of ESPN FC believes it would be a peculiar decision from Mourinho to bring in the West Ham man:

Alex Shaw @AlexShawESPN

Mourinho signing Arnautovic smacks of him signing some off radar player in his Chelsea days, only for it to go (predictably) wrong and for him to have a meltdown. Him & his demeanour and comments since City away win, plus results, all looks rather ominous.

United do need to add firepower, and Arnautovic was a reformed figure in the second half of last season. But the Old Trafford crowd would surely be underwhelmed by the Austrian coming in, especially if the fee was in the region of £50 million.

Given his inconsistencies down the years, the price West Ham would want and the age of the forward, a deal doesn't appear to make much sense for United. However, you can bet Arnautovic would jump at the chance to play for a giant of European football again.

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