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Arnautović plays down exit rumours, not thinking beyond next few West Ham games

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Could the 29-year-old be the solution to Chelsea’s striking problems?

West Ham United v Chelsea - Premier League Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images

Chelsea may or may not be in the market to bolster the team’s attacking options in January, but whether or not we ultimately do make a move certainly won’t stop the rumour mill from spitting out names that could potentially join.

One such name is West Ham’s Marko Arnautović, increasingly linked with an exit from West Ham, especially after his brother/agent played up the possibility last week. Speaking after Austria’s win over Northern Ireland on Sunday, the 29-year-old neither confirmed nor denied any such plans, responding with the well-worn line about concentrating on just the immediate future.

“I don’t want to talk about that. I concentrate on West Ham. We have a big game against Manchester City on Saturday and I am only thinking about this game and the following games. Whatever is going on with my agent and the clubs is not my business. My business is to perform on the pitch, to put in performances and that is what I want to do.”

-Marko Arnautović; source: Sky Sports

Arnautović has been doing well for West Ham this season, with 5 goals in 10 games, though that essentially mirrors Álvaro Morata’s output (5 goals in 11 games). Overall, the winger-turned-striker doesn’t have the most prolific record in England — 42 goals in 191 Premier League games is far from convincing even if we adjust for him playing most of those games as a winger.

When we also consider that he will be turning 30 in April, then Chelsea should steer well clear. Overpaying on the former Stoke player, who’s under contract until 2022, would exhibit extreme short-term thinking, with long-term, high-risk painful repercussions. Arnautović may be a good player, great, even, on his day, and could offer something different in attack, but spending the £30 million or so that West Ham would require seems redundant at best.

If Chelsea really do believe that a new striker is key to improving the team then waiting until the summer window would be the better, more sensible approach ... providing that no transfer embargo comes flying in, of course.