Stoke City chief executive Tony Scholes says the club still have no idea whether Marko Arnautovic will sign a new contract at the Britannia Stadium.
Arnautovic will enter the final 12 months of his contract this summer but is set to put himself in the shop window by playing for Austria at the European Championship before deciding whether to extend his stay in the Potteries.
“I would love to appear more knowledgeable than anyone else on this,” Scholes told the Stoke Sentinel, “but the truth is it’s in Marko’s hands. And at the moment, the decision he’s taken is that he doesn’t want to sign yet.
“He’s not out of contract for another year, albeit there is a release clause in his contract. We hope he will sign, but as I sit here now I can’t give you a definitive answer on that.
“We want him to sign. He knows what we are prepared to pay. We believe this is the best place for him given the season he’s had, but at this moment in time Marko and his agent are biding their time.”
Arnautovic, who has a £12.5million release clause in his contract, was recently chosen as the club’s player of the season by his team-mates and would leave a big hole to fill in Mark Hughes’ squad should he decide to move on this summer.
Scholes, however, is philosophical.
“It’s not ideal,” he said. “We would prefer to know, but we live with that uncertainty on a number of things. Last year we had Steven Nzonzi of course.
“The reality is, with players within your squad you never have absolute certainty where their minds are going to be, albeit you have contractual certainty for most of them.”
Hughes is reported to be targeting mainly British players this summer – Saido Berahino and Nathan Redmond have been linked – but Scholes believes the club’s work in the foreign market in recent seasons deserves success.
“I think we have done very well, and I think the evidence is out there on the pitch,” Scholes added.
“We have been recruiting internationally and that comes with risks when you bring players in who might just have dipped at the clubs where they are.
“And then it’s whether or not we can bring them back to the levels we think they are capable of. That’s where Mark Hughes and his coaching team have done an incredible job.
“Go back three years and we brought in Marko who wasn’t in great favour at the time, but Mark and his team have certainly this last season got the very best out of Marko. We have been great for him and he has been great for us in that respect.
“I mention Marko, but there are others. Giannelli Imbula, who of course is our transfer record breaking signing, hopefully we will see what he’s capable of.”