Marko Arnautovic

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EURO qualifying: Hungary stings Croatia, Israel hangs 4 on Austria

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It wasn’t just Germany and the Netherlands staging a tight and entertaining match in EURO 2020 qualifying on Sunday.

[ VIDEO: Saief, Manneh lead FC Cincinnati ]

Hungary 2-1 Croatia

Ante Rebic’s early goal made a “business as usual” statement for the World Cup runners-up, but Hungary can be a handful against any opponents and rallied at home.

Hoffenheim striker Adam Szalai brought the hosts level at halftime, and Mate Patkai gave Hungary a deserved 2-1 win in Budapest.

Coming three days after a loss in Slovakia to start qualifying, it was an early almost-must-win for Marco Rossi’s men.

Israel 4-2 Austria

Marko Arnautovic‘s brace in defeat couldn’t have come with different vibes. His eighth minute marker gave the Austrians a leg up, his 75th minute goal meaning very little with the side having conceded four-straight in between.

China-based striker Eran Zahavi scored a hat trick for Israel, and RB Salzburg star Munas Dabbur scored the fourth goal to keep the hosts within sight of first place Poland.

Austria is winless through two qualifiers.

Wales 1-0 Slovakia
Cyprus 0-2 Belgium
San Marino 0-2 Scotland
Netherlands 2-3 Germany — RECAP, VIDEO
Northern Ireland 2-1 Belarus
Poland 2-0 Latvia
Slovenia 1-1 Macedonia
Kazakhstan 0-4 Russia

Zabaleta: Arnautovic transfer saga created ‘bad atmosphere’ at West Ham

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It’s been a thoroughly weird season at West Ham United, but the good news — for Hammers fans and haters alike — is it’s not yet two-thirds complete, so there’s still plenty of time remaining for lots more weirdness.

[ MORE: Tuesday’s transfer rumor roundupMonday | Sunday ]

You’ll probably remember the abysmal start to the season and Manuel Pellegrini‘s tenure at the London Stadium — four straight losses in August and September — which resulted in just two wins from their first 10 games. Then came a run of just two defeats from the ensuing 10 games. Then, everything fell apart again right around the time the calendar turned over to 2019.

To put it another way, everything seemed to fell apart again right around the time star forward Marko Arnautovic was linked with a move to an unnamed Chinese Super League side. Arnautovic was, to be fair, completely outspoken and forthright in his desire to cash in on his talents and name recognition as he approaches his 30th birthday, but the club took a hardline stance and refused to sell him in January.

[ MORE: What did we learn on a wild Premier League Tuesday? (video) ]

Unsurprisingly, the saga, which lasted nearly three weeks, took its toll on the rest of the squad and has played a part in the latest skid: just one win from their last five games, including three losses. Pablo Zabaleta, who’s been the unquestioned leader and wise head needed during tough times, makes no bones about that fact — quotes from the Guardian:

“Honestly, I think so many situations off the field have been creating a little bit of a bad atmosphere. I’m not just saying that is the only thing, but I remember in December, when we had a good run of games, it was like you could see West Ham playing as a team. Everyone working so hard for each other. But in January, it’s been tough on and off the field.”

“February is around the corner, I can’t wait for Feb. 1, and everyone is back on it again. We need commitment from everyone if we want to have a good season and make West Ham a better club and a better team. I understand January is a difficult month for clubs, because you can have big interest in your best players. But Arnie was out of the squad for two games, and he’s been the main player for us.”

Fortunately for all parties involved, Arnautovic was convinced — by a shiny, new contract — to remain at the club through the end of the season. Then, in typical 2018-19 West Ham fashion, he suffered a foot injury in his first game back and could miss significant time.

Arnautovic announces stay at West Ham amid Chinese offer

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West Ham attacker Marko Arnautovic has confirmed on social media that he will return to play for West Ham amid a big-money offer from a pair of Chinese clubs that has seen the 29-year-old sit out the last Premier League match.

According to reports across England, Chinese clubs Shanghai SIPG and Guangzhou Evergrande have shown interest in the Austrian, and West Ham rejected a bid of $46 million earlier this winter. Arnautovic was reported to be interested in the offer and sat out last Saturday’s match with Bournemouth as he worked out his future.

Sky Sports reports that West Ham informed a bid of $66 million would be enough to see him move away from Olympic Stadium, but that did not materialize.

“Dear West Ham fans,” Arnautovic wrote on a post on his Instagram story, a sector of Instagram that gives posts a shelf life of 24 hours. “I guess it’s no secret that there has been an offer for me and I have to admit that the offer was a very tempting one for me and my family.”

“I’ve given 100% to my club duties but I have also needed some time to talk to my club, my wife, and the rest of my family. I have no decided to put all the writings and speculation. I’m a professional footballer and the only thing I know in life is to play in football. It’s clear that London and West Ham United feels like home for me and I hope that the West Ham fans have always seen that. The club has pointed my career in the right direction since I joined and therefore I want to put the offers aside, help the club climb as high as possible in the table and try to win the [FA] Cup. Let’s focus on the rest of the season together and let them bubbles fly. COYI.”

Arnautovic joined West Ham from Stoke City in the summer of 2017 and has made 53 appearances for the Hammers since, scoring 19 goals and assisting 10 others. Seven of those goals scored have come this season in league play, including a brace back on January 2nd against Brighton.

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.