Marko Arnautovic Discusses Possible West Ham Exit Amid Manchester United Rumours

Matt JonesFeatured ColumnistNovember 14, 2018

HUDDERSFIELD, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 10: Marko Arnautovic of West Ham United during the Premier League match between Huddersfield Town and West Ham United at John Smith's Stadium on November 10, 2018 in Huddersfield, United Kingdom. (Photo by William Early/Getty Images)
William Early/Getty Images

West Ham United forward Marko Arnautovic has said he wants to test himself against the best players following rumours that Manchester United were keen on signing him. 

In May, it was reported by Sky Sports that the Red Devils were interested in the Austria international, with West Ham said to value him at around £50 million. However, he ended up staying at the London Stadium.

Speaking to Austrian newspaper Kurier (h/t Ed Aarons of the Guardian), Arnautovic said he may be in the best years of his career to secure a big transfer: "I'm 29, so that's the best age. It's clear that I want to compete with the best players. But in this affair, I totally trust my brother."

Arnautovic's brother, Danijel, is his agent, and as relayed by Aarons, he said the forward will be looking to make a step up: "Marko is really enjoying playing for West Ham. He loves that club and the fans. But there is still that feeling, that this cannot be the end. And everybody should understand that."

Per Kate McGreavy of the MailOnline, Danijel also told Kurier a move away might improve his brother's game:

"He's a big part of West Ham's team but I think it's possible to tease out more of him. For that to happen, he has to play for a top team. Marko is ready for the next step. A player like him should not play against relegation. He should play for the international spots."

Prior to his move to West Ham, Arnautovic was always considered a capricious footballer who would mix moments of magic with moments of madness.

Per James Robson of the Manchester Evening News, United manager Jose Mourinho once said when they worked together at Inter Milan "Marko is a great guy, but he has the mentality of a child."

However, there has been a maturation in Arnautovic at West Ham, as he has relished the chance to lead the line as a central striker.

Dan Morgan of The Anfield Wrap commented on the changes the former Stoke City man has made:

Dan @dan_morgan3

Proper centre forward Arnautovic. Turned into a player who loves the battle back to goal, knows all his strengths and weaknesses and gets defenders to play games on his terms

Arnautovic has continued to provide an attacking threat in a West Ham team that has struggled for form under manager Manuel Pellegrini.

The forward has scored five times in 10 Premier League appearances, turning in especially strong performances against United and Everton in 3-1 wins. With his pace, power and nose for goals, it's not a shock that he fancies himself playing at a higher level.

While the quotes may come as a concern for some West Ham fans, Geo Mackie of Hammers Chat isn't getting too worried about their star man departing:

Geo Mackie @redhammer8

Marko Arnautovic wants to play for a top club? Good. I'd be disappointed if he didn't, winners mentality. Doesn't mean he's unhappy, doesn't mean a big club wants him & doesn't mean a big club think it's good value.

Having flopped during his time at Inter, who are traditionally the biggest club Arnautovic has played for, some elite sides may be hesitant spending big on the forward. In addition, he turns 30 before the season's end, meaning they'd likely be paying a large outlay for a short-term impact.

Still, it appears Arnautovic is anxious to make a step up in his career before he's on the other side of his peak years. The best way for him to attract that kind of interest will be getting his head down with West Ham and continuing to offer a talismanic presence in the final third.