The proposed move for winger Marko Arnautovic could now be in jeopardy after the Austrian international suffered a knee injury during preseason. The Hammers had a £15 million bid turned down by Stoke City earlier in the week and things looked positive as Arnautovic handed in a transfer request looking to force a move. That was until during Monday’s game against Swiss side Neuchatel Xamax where the 28-year-old went down just before half time. He was treated by the physio but limped off. It is so far unclear the extent of the injury but it appears West Ham will increase their bid to around £20 million. The first bid looked well timed but, with a number of Premier League sides interested in the player, Stoke may be able to afford to start a bidding war and increase the price closer to their expectations of £25 million. Everton and Leicester City had been amongst the other sides eying up a move for the player who has scored 22 goals in 125 Premier League appearances.
With Stoke City so far showing no interest in selling the winger, the price may keep increasing, but would his performances warrant such a high fee? Last season was a relatively poor one for Arnautovic as he scored just 6 goals in 32 league games compared to his highest haul of 11 the season before. He averaged almost 2 shots per game during the whole of last season and his pass competition was high at 75.4%. Arnautovic had 5 league assists during the season at an average of one every 545 minutes of play. Only Dimitri Payet (6) had more assist for West Ham last season but several players pitched in with 3. Sofiane Feghouli had the best assist rate for the Hammers of one every 346 minutes. Arnautovic favours the attacking left wing, however, he can be deployed on both sides. He is also comfortable playing more centrally, although he is more an attacking threat than a playmaker. The Austrian had the same amount of key passes per game (1.6) as Manuel Lanzini last season, although his general passes per game was around half.
If West Ham were to continue their interest in Marko Arnautovic, and his knee injury does not prove to be serious then they would get a player suited to the current style of play. An attack-minded wide player who can trouble defenders as well as provide assists for others. He is proven at Premier League level, however, showed a slight decline in performance last season. Arnautovic has a contract with Stoke until 2020 and they are not interested in selling for less than their valuation. West Ham need to be careful to not be forced to increase their price to a level which they could not maximise the player’s value.