West Ham damage limitation as Arnautovic makes an ugly, undignified exit
PUBLISHED: 14:30 08 July 2019 | UPDATED: 16:31 08 July 2019
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Austrian leaves for Chinese riches with his reputation in tatters
West Ham striker Marko Arnautovic has left the club for the money-laden streets of the Chinese Super League and I think it is fair to misquote the other Arnie by saying 'I won't be back!'.
An ugly, undignified ending for the club which smacks of déjà vu in remembering Dimitri Payet's hasty exodus.
So let's consider the story of Arnautovic during his time at West Ham.
A club record signing when he arrived from obscurity at Stoke City, the one thing he was always going to do was make an imnpression.
In fact his time at West Ham was a remarkable one.
He went from zero after getting sent off at Southampton for a rogue elbow, and then slumped even lower when he cried off his return with a cold.
However, the influence of David Moyes that season turned him into a top player.
He trained harder, he worked harder on the field, his attitude completely changes and scored the goals as a centre forward before sweeing the board at the Hammer of the Year awards night.
And even under a new boss in Manuel Pellegrini he seemed to go from strength to strength.
That is until just before the January transfer window, when in league with his brother/agent, he decided he wanted a move to China.
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In the end that fell through at the time, but not before he has angered the fans who vented their disgust at the player as he sat in the dug out.
Like Payet the 30-year-old refused to play and then to add PR disaster to the ugly mess, the Hammers put up a video of the Austrian pledging his alliance to the club after signing a new deal.
That came literally minutes after West Ham had crashed out of the FA Cup at League One bottom side AFC Wimbledon, a game that Arnautovic had not played in and the fans were livid.
It took a while for the player to get back into the swing of things - he went from January 5 to May 4 without scoring a goal.
But in May he found that form and enthusiasm again.
Two goals against Southampton and another on the last day at Watford restored the faith of many fans in him, especially when he told them he would see them next season.
It all turned out to be a lie. As soon as pre-season began he declared that he wanted away.
The departure of Payet was a huge shock, this one just seemed an inevitable one when you consider the seemingly mercenary personality of the player.
He scored 22 goals for the Hammers in 65 appearances but he had the potential for more.
His signing for Chinese Super League champs Shanghai SIPG is reportedly been for a fee of around £23 million, so the Hammers have not even made a profit on the player.
But it was vital that they got the 30-year-old out of the door and fast. One bad apple can destroy a dressing room and it was clear that the players no longer wanted him around.
Payet's career was turned round by West Ham and he went on to a European final at Marseille, but for Arnautovic, his career was also turned tound by the Hammers, but this move is a money-motivated one and we are unlikely to hear too much of him in the future.