West Ham United are no stranger to recruiting big egos and big characters, with the Hammers having had a number of talismanic figures at the club over the years, including the likes of Paolo Di Canio and Dimitri Payet.
One man who also stole the headlines during his brief and at times turbulent spell in east London was Marko Arnautovic, with the polarising Austrian having been something of a love-hate figure while at the club.
Having been signed from Stoke City on a £25m deal in the summer of 2017, the mercurial forward went on to score 11 goals and provide eight assists in a promising debut campaign with the Irons, having hit form following David Moyes’ interim appointment early in the 2017/18 campaign.
Although he would go on to score a further ten league goals under Manuel Pellegrini the following season, the attacking menace would see his time at the club come to something of an acrimonious end, as West Ham begrudgingly accepted a £22.4m exit to Chinese Super League side Shanghai SIPG in July 2019.
The 6-foot-3 brute had seemingly irked the former Manchester City boss having only signed a new deal a few months earlier after initially angling for a switch in January, only to then again press for a move once the season was at an end.
While many were perhaps glad to see the back of him, the club arguably then made a mistake in not attempting to re-sign the former FC Twente man not long after, with Moyes – whom Arnautovic had starred under previously – back at the helm.
Reports in January 2021 suggested that the ruthless “maverick” – as dubbed by former boss Mark Hughes – had been offered to the Premier League side, only for the Hammers to deem the player’s potential wage to be too expensive.
Having snubbed that deal, reports later that year suggested that Moyes and co were keen on making a move for the player on a potential free transfer, with the player’s agent suggesting that there had been interest from the east Londoners.
As it proved, the 102-cap marksman ultimately secured a switch to Serie A side Bologna last summer, with West Ham left with just Michail Antonio as the only senior centre-forward option during the 2020/21 campaign.
The £5.4m-rated man has seemingly made his former club pay for their inability to get a deal done as he has since gone on to sparkle in Italy, scoring 15 goals across all fronts in his debut season last term.
That form has continued in the current campaign – amid brief interest from Manchester United – with the 33-year-old having netted six goals in just six league games thus far, ensuring he currently sits atop the scoring charts in the division.
Although a player with potential baggage, Arnautovic has seemingly proven wherever he has gone that he is a reliable force in front of goal, with those back at the London Stadium likely ruing their failure to snap up the £57k-per-week predator last year.