Marko Arnautovic: West Ham forward wants to leave for China, says Michail Antonio

Marko Arnautovic
Arnautovic has scored 19 goals in 53 games for West Ham

Everyone at West Ham knows forward Marko Arnautovic wants to leave for a Chinese club, says team-mate Michail Antonio.

The Hammers have received a £35m bid for the Austrian forward, 29, from an unnamed side in China.

Antonio said "talisman" Arnautovic would be "truly missed" but added the issue had not affected the West Ham dressing room.

"Everyone knows Marko wants to go," Hammers forward Antonio said.

Speaking on Sky Sports' Goals on Sunday, he added: "He's massive for the club, the fans love him.

"Players come and go, we are used to it. Obviously I'd rather he stayed, he's a talisman for the club."

Arnautovic joined from Stoke in 2017 for a then club-record £20m on a contract running until 2022.

A club, believed to be Chinese champions Shanghai SIPG, is understood to have bid £35m for Arnautovic, with the wages on offer believed to be £200,000 a week over a four-year contract.

West Ham say he is not for sale despite his agent and brother saying it is the player's "great desire" the club accept the offer.

The forward started in West Ham's win over Arsenal on Saturday but waved to the home crowd when he was substituted with 20 minutes to go.

"In his life right now he feels it's another step for him and he's going to one of the best clubs over there and will be able to win some trophies," Antonio, 28, said.

"It's a difficult question. He's coming to the latter end of his career and he might feel that he needs a new step before he retires. This might be the step he wants.

"He is a great character, he's like a brother to me. If he goes he will be truly missed."

Arnautovic has scored eight goals in 18 games this season and is the club's joint-top scorer.

"Replacing him would be a difficult situation," Antonio said.

"He has experience of playing, he scores goals and right now who could we sign to replace him? That's where the problem lies. We would definitely need to sign someone too."

'If he's intent on leaving, then let him go'

Former England midfielder Jermaine Jenas said West Ham should sell Arnautovic if he does not want to stay.

"When I look at West Ham I really like the squad they are getting together and the way Manuel Pellegrini is getting them to play; everything is positive," Jenas said on Match of the Day.

"You don't want a player that does not want to be there.

"If Arnautovic is intent on leaving then let him go, use the money and bring in someone that wants to be there.

"He has been very good for them but he strikes me as a player that can make things go the other way as he is very powerful in the dressing room."

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