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Transfer rumor roundup: Higuain, Morata nearing moves; Hazard wants Madrid move

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More than two-thirds of the January transfer window has gone by, and Premier League clubs have made very few deals as of yet.

With 10 days remaining, it’s probably safe to assume that business is about to pick up…

[ MORE: Arsenal’s head of recruitment leaving club after one year ]

With Gonzalo Higuain expected to join Chelsea on loan in the coming hours or days, Alvaro Morata remains the player who’ll be most affected by the Argentine’s arrival. As such, the 26-year-old Spanish forward is expected to complete a loan move of his own in short order. Atletico Madrid could announce Morata’s arrival as soon Monday, according to Sky Sports.


Elsewhere in the locker room at Stamford Bridge, Eden Hazard has his heart set on joining Real Madrid in the summer, according to a report from Spanish newspaper Marca. With the Blues not wanting to sell their prized superstar, Hazard is reportedly ready to force the move through. At 28 years old, the Belgian likely only has two or three years remaining in the prime of his career, at which point paying a fee of (presumably) well over $100 million — if not $150 million — would be unwise on Madrid’s part.


Matteo Darmian is expected to leave Manchester United before the January window closes, with Juventus the current frontrunners for his services, according to the Guardian. Darmian’s initial move to the seven-time defending Serie A champions will be a loan deal, but Juve will have a $9-million option to sign the 29-year-old right back on a permanent basis. With his contract set to expire this summer, Man United would exercise an option in Darmian’s contract in order to recoup nearly 75 percent of their initial investment in the summer of 2015.


Marko Arnautovic reportedly has on the table an extremely lucrative offer from a Chinese Super League club, but the 29-year-old Austrian winger won’t be allowed to leave West Ham United until the summer, according to the Standard. While West Ham hope to avoid a drawn-out saga over the season’s final five months, the Hammers have zero intent to budge from their hardline stance, even if Arnautovic refuses to play and sits out. Arnautovic stands to make nearly $400,000 per week should a move to China come to pass.

Report: Arnautovic to stay at West Ham United

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West Ham United has outlasted Marko Arnautovic‘s desire to leave the club during this transfer window.

At least for now.

[ RECAP: Bournemouth 2-0 West Ham ]

The 29-year-old has been unsettled at West Ham for some time, with his brother/agent angling for a UEFA Champions League move as far back as November.

And Arnautovic’s head was turned to the Chinese Super League with reports of a $360,000-per-week salary offer. A bid of $45 million materialized, but West Ham wanted closer to $60 million for its $25 million purchase from Stoke City.

For what it’s worth, West Ham has insisted that “Arnie” is not for sale. And the price tag has not been met anyway.

Arnautovic has scored seven times in 16 Premier League matches, adding another goal during an FA Cup cameo. He has 40 goals and 35 assists in six Premier League seasons.

Top Premier League storylines for Week 22

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The Premier League returns for the first time in a week-and-a-half when Arsenal and West Ham United kick off Saturday morning on NBCSN.

[ MORE: JPW’s Premier League Picks ]

It will be Liverpool’s first unit’s first chance to bounce back from the Man City defeat, while Paul Pogba and Manchester United attempt to prove that their resurgence isn’t down to a forgiving run of schedule.

Solskjaer’s Man Utd gets its first real test at Wembley Stadium
Tottenham Hotspur vs. Manchester United, 11:30 a.m. ET Sunday on NBCSN [ STREAM ]

The Red Devils have won four-straight Premier League matches since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer took over at Old Trafford, but have faced no test anything like Spurs. Tottenham has its table-topping dreams alive, but will be challenged in its legs and depth due to Tuesday’s tough League Cup semifinal first leg defeat of Chelsea.

Blues protect Top Four status as woeful Newcastle visits
Chelsea vs. Newcastle United, 12:30 p.m. ET Saturday on NBC [ STREAM ]

Rafa Benitez‘s Newcastle has been tough to break down this season, but Chelsea will be facing more pressure from itself and fifth place Arsenal. The Blues’ Top Four cushion is just three points, and the Magpies have found success at Stamford Bridge on occasion.

Pep’s men face giant-killing Nuno Espirito Santo‘s Wolves
Man City vs. Wolves, 3 p.m. ET Monday on NBCSN [ STREAM ]

The visitors have done pretty well against the big boys during their return to the Premier League, but a defeat of Liverpool and a pair of lower league defenses have allowed Man City to find its flow ahead of Monday’s visit. It promises to be a treat in one way or another.

Leaders Liverpool aim to end “barely slump”
Brighton and Hove Albion vs. Liverpool, 10 a.m. ET Saturday on NBCSN [ STREAM ]

The Reds were unlucky to not gain a point against City, and fell victim to Jurgen Klopp‘s “Let’s rest almost everyone” strategy in bowing out of another cup competition. Still, it’s two-straight losses for Liverpool and a trip to face Chris Hughton‘s very tricky Seagulls. Brighton is unbeaten in three and angling for a statement win.

Angsty Arnautovic, Irons host Arsenal
West Ham United vs. Arsenal, 7:30 a.m. ET Saturday on NBCSN [ STREAM ]

West Ham’s table charge has slowed in recent weeks, with Manuel Pellegrini‘s men slumping to just four points in four matches. Now 10th in the table, smack in the middle of a seven-team table cluster, the Irons are also dealing with an angry striker. Marko Arnautovic has made noise about wanting Champions League football, but now he’s sitting with a massive money offer from China and West Ham doesn’t want to accept the bid.

West Ham block Arnautovic exit

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West Ham United and Marko Arnautovic are embroiled in a very public and rather ugly transfer battle.

After a bid of over $45 million was reportedly tabled by an unnamed Chinese Super League club Wednesday (believed to be reigning CSL champs Shanghai SIPG) for West Ham’s star striker, Arnautovic’s agent and brother has said he wants to leave the Hammers.

Danijel Arnautovic released the following statement to talkSPORT in the UK.

“West Ham bought Marko for peanuts. They paid £20million for him, which is nothing in the current market. They bought him to keep them in the Premier League last season and he did that. He took every award at the club; best player, signing of the season and the players’ award. Now West Ham have a fantastic offer. It is close to double what they paid for him. He wants to go to a new market and challenge for titles. This is what he wants. It is his great desire that West Ham accept the offer from China.”

The Hammers responded to the claims with this brief, and rather curt, statement:

Your move, Marko…

Arnautovic, 29, is contracted to West Ham until the summer of 2022 and if the Hammers do not want to sell him then this is a very tough situation to sort out. It is almost a case of deja vu for the Hammers when you think about the situation they had with Dimitri Payet just over two years ago.

Reports suggest Arnautovic will double his wages to $255,000 per week if he moves to China and given his rather lavish lifestyle off the pitch, that extra cash will come in handy in the long run…

The Austrian has been West Ham’s best player by a country mile since joining from Stoke in the summer of 2017, scoring 18 goals in 46 Premier League games and almost single-handedly keeping them in the PL last season. He played a starring role as a lone striker under David Moyes in the second half of the 2017-18 campaign and despite a few injuries he has continued that form into this season under new manager Manuel Pellegrini.

Arnautovic has a reputation as a trouble maker and a volatile character when things aren’t going his way and it will be intriguing to see how his performances on the pitch play out, despite his brother going on to say “he will give 100 per cent for West Ham” as long as he is at the club. He added that he hopes the Hammers fans understand that “things move on” in sport, but if he wants the supporters to believe that Arnautovic’s main motive for this move is to challenge for titles then he will lose plenty of respect from West Ham’s fans right away.

Their leading goalscorer this season reacted rather angrily towards Pellegrini after being subbed off during West Ham’s 2-0 FA Cup third round win against Birmingham City last weekend (he scored the opener) and the former Inter Milan star was perhaps preempting this possible January exit with his actions.

All of this comes just when it looked like West Ham had figured things out with their squad as Pellegrini had bought wisely in defense this summer, locked Declan Rice down to a new long-term deal and club-record signing Felipe Anderson was purring in support of Arnautovic in attack.

Many will simply say: ‘this is what we warned you about when you signed Arnautovic.’

Reports: West Ham receives sizable bid for Arnautovic from China

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According to a number of reports in England, including the BBC, West Ham has a sizable offer in hand from a Chinese club for playmaker Marko Arnautovic, and while the club reportedly has “no desire to sell,” it could be difficult to keep Arnautovic focused on the Premier League with such a giant offer on his plate.

Arnautovic has been linked with top Premier League clubs over the past few years, even dating back to his time at Stoke City before moving to West Ham in the summer of 2017, but this $45 million offer from an unnamed Chinese club could at the very least set the market for the 29-year-old Austrian.

While this was not featured in the BBC report, Sky Sports quoted someone at West Ham on the record saying “£35m would be nowhere near enough for such a key player.”

The wages are likely what would turn Arnautovic’s head, and while the top reports on the situation did not mention what the Chinese club could offer, talkSport’s Lee Clayton says the wages presented in the offer are “amazing” and insinuates that Arnautovic could potentially force his way out.

Arnautovic has seven goals in 15 Premier League appearances this season, following up a full campaign with 11 goals for West Ham in 31 appearances last time around.