Darren Gough appeared to suggest that West Ham are viewed as a stepping stone for players amid reports that Marko Arnautovic is about to exit.
Sky Sports previously reported via their Twitter account that the Hammers forward was trying to force his exit by handing in a transfer request with talkSPORT reporting on Friday that the 30-year-old’s wish had been granted as he had passed a medical ahead of a move to Shanghai SIPG.
Gough shared that Arnautovic’s potential exit didn’t surprise him as it seemed that a player would often become unhappy at the Hammers, and implied it was like players joined them just to build up their own reputation.
“It doesn’t surprise me, they’ve gotta get him out,” said Gough on talkSPORT (17:40, Friday, July, 5th).
“It has happened so many times at West Ham where they get a player, they become unhappy, it’s almost as if they go there to try and build their reputation then want to go to the next level up.
“If though he is going to China, the reason it’s next level there is because it’s a business transaction, it’s money, money, that’s all it is!”
How can Gough imply that Arnautovic is using West Ham as a stepping stone?
While the Chinese Super League shouldn’t be disrespected, it’s not seen as a step up as it’s not normally one of the divisions argued as being the best in the world like the Premier League is.
Gough may try to justify his remarks by saying it’s next level money, it’s unlikely Arnautovic predicted that if he did well at the Hammers, a Chinese side would throw money at him when joining in 2017.
You feel the talkSPORT pundit is using Arnautovic to reference the situation that occurred when Dimitri Payet left the Hammers in 2017, as the playmaker clearly tried to leave the club for bigger things.
The Hammers official website implied at the time that Payet forced his move to Marseille and you could argued that was him moving his career to the next level as they were featuring in Europe, the Europa League, unlike West Ham at that time.
However aside from that, Payet is the only player in recent memory who has really used the Hammers as a stepping stone.
Yet Gough’s suggestion will worry some, just because of the so-called bigger teams in the Premier League sniffing around some of their players.
For example, Manchester United have been credited with an interest in Declan Rice and Issa Diop, so the idea that the Hammers could be viewed as a stepping stone is not something fans would likely want to comprehend at this time.
The only good thing about Gough’s concerning implication is that it’s easy to discredit; however, hopefully, he is completely wide of the mark to suggest a pattern is establishing itself at the London Stadium.