Marko Arnautovic: Why he has been linked with Man Utd and where he would fit in
Manchester United lost their opening Premier League game of the new season as Erik ten Hag’s tenure began with defeat to Brighton at Old Trafford.
Before the final whistle, reports began to surface the club had highlighted Bologna forward Marko Arnautovic as a potential signing.
Here, the PA news agency takes a look at Arnautovic’s career to date and what the 33-year-old Austria international can bring to Old Trafford.
Better the red devil you know
Arnautovic began his playing career at FC Twente, eventually playing under the management team of Steve McClaren and his assistant, Ten Hag.
On being appointed as United boss, Ten Hag brought McClaren back to Old Trafford as one of his right-hand men. The pair have therefore both experienced working with Arnautovic and must have been suitably impressed.
The forward hit 14 goals in 59 appearances for Twente before making a loan move to Inter Milan for the 2009-10 season.
The not-so Special One
If Arnautovic had caught the eye of Ten Hag in Holland, the same could not be said for his disappointing stint in Italy.
Inter had tried to land him on a permanent deal before a loan move with future options was agreed – but Jose Mourinho, then in charge at the San Siro, did not like what he saw. He was quoted as calling Arnautovic “unmanageable” and with “the mentality of a child”.
Having made just three appearances in Serie A and without scoring a goal, Arnautovic headed next to Werder Bremen, where he would spend the next four years.
Your 2017/18 Hammer of the Year… Marko Arnautovic! 🙌 pic.twitter.com/DWfa9H7t1s
— West Ham United (@WestHam) April 25, 2018
Mark Hughes signed Arnautovic for Stoke in the summer of 2013 for a fee reported to be as little as £2million. His first goal for the Potters came in defeat to Manchester United and he would become a firm favourite during his four years in Staffordshire.
While he was in and out of the side initially, he became integral to a Stoke team which achieved three top-half Premier League finishes. That impact saw West Ham make Arnautovic their then-record signing, spending upwards of £20million to acquire his services.
He was sent off on just his second appearance but, with manager David Moyes converting him to a striker, his 11 goals would earn him the ‘Hammer of the Year’ award.
China and back to Italy
After a second season in east London where he again reached double-figures, Arnautovic pushed through a lucrative move to Shanghai Port in the Chinese Super League.
Two years in China came to an end when he returned to Serie A to join Bologna, where 14 goals in 33 league games seemingly brought him back to the attention of Ten Hag.
Where would he fit in at Old Trafford?
With Cristiano Ronaldo’s United future still in doubt, Anthony Martial injured after seemingly reinvigorating his career at the club in pre-season and newcomer Christian Eriksen operating as a false-nine against Brighton, any sort of extra firepower would be welcomed by the new manager.
The ability to play through the middle or on either flank would also appeal – but Arnautovic is not the big-name, marquee signing some United fans are craving to truly kickstart the Ten Hag era.
And it remains to be seen if any previous question marks over his character would return.