It is increasingly looking like Marko Arnautovic will be leaving West Ham in the January window as his absence from today's squad for the trip to Bournemouth represents a significant escalation of the situation. While for many a move to China right now seems ludicrous, others have highlighted the extent to which he appears to be under the influence of his manager-brother Danijel who is clearly motivated by money rather than competitive success.
But perhaps that is too simplistic an assessment, as a number of top stars have looked China bound but ultimately used the negotiations to move elsewhere. Diego Costa's exit from Chelsea certainly comes to mind. If Arnautovic does make the move to China, it'll be fascinating to look at the fine detail in his contract as, at 29 years old, he might well bounce back to the Premiership after a year or even less. It's hard not to notice that any of Spurs, Man United or Chelsea would almost certainly be delighted to have his services at their disposal.
However, if that is the plan then the Arnautovic brothers should pay careful attention to the Ramires story. The Brazilian was still in his prime at Chelsea and only 28 years old when he made the move to Jiangsu Suning in January 2016 for £25 million. Things started well for him in China until he tried to engineer a move back to Benfica, his old club in Portugal, which Jiangsu blocked and then kicked him into the reserves as punishment! It would be foolish to underestimate the financial power of the big Chinese clubs and their capacity to make a point if they feel that they are being disrespected.
It might also be worth noting for Arnautovic that at the time of leaving, Ramires had won the Champions League, Europa League, Premier League, FA Cup and League Cup during his six years at Chelsea!
Today's display at Bournemouth underlined West Ham's need for a good finisher as both Carroll and Hernandez failed to inspire while Hammers target Callum Wilson scored a stunner and was denied a second goal by the post. This was all after Andy Carroll missed a sitter that Arnie would almost certainly have buried. Sadly, at this stage the campaign has started to go all Payetesque and its hard to see Arnie coming back into the fold as many supporters will understandably feel betrayed by his actions.
Right now you can get 22/1 against him moving to Chelsea, 25/1 Man United and the intriguing 28/1 for a move to replace the injured Harry Kane at Tottenham. A move to any Chinese club is 1/5 on and its worth noting that their transfer window does not close until well into February, by which time West Ham will be well softened up towards a departure! Hmmm.