West Ham manager Sam Allardyce is looking to secure one more player ahead of the new campaign and that man may well be Werder Bremen forward Marko Arnautovic, with the Austrian having plenty to offer a manager of Allardyce’s tactical proclivities.
The Hammers are 7/1 to be relegated after a solid first season back at the top table that was achieved in spite of having scored just 44 goals last term, making increasing their goal-threat a priority.
24-year-old Arnautovic burst onto the scene at FC Twente under Steve McLaren in the 2008/09 campaign, earning comparisons with Zlatan Ibrahimovich as he bagged 12 goals in 28 Eredivisie appearances.
Visually the reasons for the comparisons are obvious. Standing at 6’3” and a strapping lad to boot, the Austrian is an imposing presence who can also boast plenty of pace.
He’s also versatile positionally, making him a more attractive option than other potential attacking targets linked with Upton Park such as Peter Odemwingie and Spartak Moscow’s Emmanuel Emenike.
Equally at home as a winger in a four-man midfield or leading the line, he could play off Andy Carroll or indeed act as a like-for-like replacement for the centre forward if necessary.
However, physical similarities are not the only way in which the Austrian has been likened to Ibra, also sharing a penchant for controversy with the brilliant Swede.
His immense promise at Twente led to a move to Inter Milan, but he played only three league games for the Nerazurri before being sold to Bremen, with Inter boss Jose Mourinho describing Arnautovic as having “the attitude of a child”.
At the Weserstadion his questionable temperament has continued to be a factor with the latest incident a training ground bust-up with teammate Sokratis in March 2013.
Nonetheless he has been a productive presence during his time in Germany, donating 24 goals and 17 assists to the cause over this three seasons at the club.