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‘Mad Marko’ would be eye-catching addition to Chinese football

London (AFP) – Marko Arnautovic might not have the superstar status of China’s biggest football imports, but the volatile West Ham striker will provide goals and drama in equal measure if he completes his proposed move.

Arnautovic was the subject of a reported £35 million ($44 million) offer from an unnamed Chinese Super League club last week.

Although the Hammers declared the Austria international was not for sale, the player’s agent and brother Danijel Arnautovic said his client had a “great desire that West Ham accept the offer from China”.

Shanghai SIPG are the side said to be interested and have reportedly offered Arnautovic a wage packet of £200,000 per week over a four-year deal.

Despite the transfer speculation, the 29-year-old started for West Ham in their 1-0 win against Arsenal on Saturday.

When he was taken off in the 71st minute, Arnautovic clapped and waved to West Ham’s fans in a gesture that was interpreted as a farewell.

If Arnautovic does get his wish to cash in on the lucrative offer, Chinese fans should prepare themselves for an entertaining show from one of the Premier League’s most colourful characters.

He does not have the global profile of Brazilians Oscar, Hulk, Alexandre Pato and Ramires, who have all made big-money moves to China in recent years.

But Arnautovic, labelled ‘Mad Marko’ for his explosive antics, brings quite the reputation.

Jose Mourinho once described Arnautovic as having the attitude of a child, while Steve McClaren, his boss at FC Twente, reportedly told friends he was the craziest player he had ever managed.

A close pal of former Manchester City star Mario Balotelli, another player happy to embrace a bad-boy tag, Arnautovic infuriated Mourinho when he briefly played on loan at Inter Milan.

– ‘Keep my mouth shut’ –

While in Italy, Arnautovic borrowed team-mate Samuel Eto’o’s Bentley and it was stolen while in his possession.

“I drove it for two weeks to check whether I liked it. I was at a restaurant with friends when it was stolen. This incident affected me so badly I was unable to train,” Arnautovic said at the time.

He has also cycled into a golf cart, tore a knee ligament while playing with his dog and reportedly insulted a Vienna policeman by saying; “Shut up, I earn so much I can buy your life”.

While playing for Werder Bremen, he was suspended after he was pulled over in his sports car by police for speeding in the early hours of the morning before a match.

He had already got off to a bad start by turning up to training with ‘Champions League winner 2010’ printed on his boots, even though he was left out of the Inter squad for the final.

Arnautovic vowed to turn over a new leaf after the birth of his baby daughter, just before his £2 million transfer to Stoke in 2013.

“I must keep myself under control. I have a big responsibility as a father. That helps me to be more sensible,” he said. 

“It’s better I keep my mouth shut. Let my feet do the talking.”

Initially, Arnautovic made a positive impression at Stoke, but he angered then boss Mark Hughes by requesting a transfer when he was alerted to interest from West Ham.

After sealing a £20 million switch to West Ham in 2017, he won the club’s player of the year award with 11 goals in his debut season.

But Arnautovic couldn’t stay out of trouble and on his first return to Stoke, he incensed Hughes, who shouted at the striker after he sarcastically saluted home supporters in response to taunts he was receiving.

Undeterred, Arnautovic has established himself as West Ham’s talisman.

His eight goals this season have kept West Ham away from the relegation zone and could earn him that massive pay-day in China.

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