Date: 7th May 2019 at 9:35am
Written by:

OPINION

You get the impression that Marko Arnautovic likes being the centre of attention. 

From the way he plays to the enigmatic persona he cultivates, this is a player fully in love with the notion of his own legacy.

When things are going well, that’s fine. A little bit of arrogance is a necessity of any great footballer; the belief that they are the best player in the pitch, and that the game is theirs to be won.

When things aren’t going so well, however, that arrogance can become a really corrosive presence.

Arnautovic has certainly been the centre of attention at West Ham this season, but it hasn’t been for the right reasons.

The Austrian came agonisingly close to sealing a January move to China, only for it to fall through at the last, leaving him in East London to sign a new contract and pledge his loyalties to the Hammers.

That should have been the end of the matter, but his downturn in form and seeming ambivalence about the club has led to inevitable doubts over whether or not he will actually still be a West Ham player next season.

There have been times when it has felt as if him signing that new deal was a case of nothing more than putting a band-aid on an axe-wound.

Supporters should take some comfort, however, from Manuel Pellegrini’s latest comments on the forward.

It would appear that the Chilean is fairly confident of him staying put this summer.

As quoted by Football.London, he said: “Last season, for different reasons, he started bad but after that he demonstrated what he can do.

“This season, exactly the same, when he was mentally involved he played the same and made the difference and I hope that next season, he will be involved in doing a complete season.

“I am sure this season for him will have been a good lesson, he learned some things and I am absolutely convinced next season we will see a great Marko.”

Those sound like the words of a manager who is not in the slightest bit worried about losing his key man.

Surely this the clearest indicator yet of where Arnautovic’s future lies.