West Ham United have confirmed that Marko Arnautovic has joined Chinese Super League champions Shanghai SIPG for an undisclosed fee.
The 30-year-old Austrian moves to the Far East after two seasons at London Stadium, during which he scored 22 goals in 65 appearances for the Hammers. No other player had been involved in more West Ham goals during Arnautovic’s time at the club and his departure will leave a sizeable hole in their attack.
The forward almost left in January but the Hammers refused to do business and he instead signed a contract extension, amid links with a £50m move to Manchester United at the time.
However, after it was reported on Friday that the Hammers were set to “accept a terrible deal” to sell the former Stoke star off, it has been widely reported that he has been allowed to leave for a fee of just €25m (£22.4m).
“I have been in touch with a very senior source at West Ham,” reporter Kaveh Solhekol told Sky Sports on Friday.
“I asked him ‘are you okay with us reporting that a deal has been agreed for Arnautovic to go to China? We have heard it will be announced in two days.’
“He has just sent me a reply, and the reply says ‘yes. Terrible deal for us, but manager, staff and players want him out’.
“They are so desperate to get him out of the club that they are willing to do a terrible deal to get him out of West Ham.
“I have had another message from someone else who knows what is going on at West Ham, and it says ‘a deal is getting closer for Marko to leave €25m. We feel we have no choice but to let Marko go as it is bad for team morale if he stays.
“‘The team is the most important thing and players who want to play for a team moving in the right direction is the most important thing.’”
Arnautovic began his career with Dutch side FC Twente before moving to German club Werder Bremen following an unsuccessful loan spell under Jose Mourinho at Inter Milan.
He moved to England in 2013 and spent four years with the Potters, finding the net 22 times in 125 top-flight outings.
Arnautovic, who has been capped 81 times by his country and played at Euro 2016, will be managed by Portuguese coach Vitor Pereira in Shanghai.
His team-mates will include former Chelsea midfielder Oscar and Brazil international Hulk.
Details of his contract have not yet been announced by the Chinese club.
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