Manchester United to pursue West Ham striker Marko Arnautovic

Jose Mourinho would like to bring Marko Arnautovic to Manchester United as he seeks to strengthen the English Premier League club's attack. (AFP)
Updated 25 May 2018
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Manchester United to pursue West Ham striker Marko Arnautovic

  • The Austria international scored 11 league goals at West Ham United last season
  • Sources close to the United manager said Arnautovic, 29, has impressed Mourinho

MANCHESTER: Jose Mourinho would like to bring Marko Arnautovic to Manchester United as he seeks to strengthen the English Premier League club's attack in the summer transfer window, Arab News has learned.
The Austria international — scorer of 11 league goals at West Ham United last season — is one of several options to add aggression, height and technical ability to United's squad for a campaign in which Mourinho will be under intense external pressure to bring the title back to Old Trafford.
Sources close to the United manager said Arnautovic, 29, has impressed Mourinho during a campaign in which he often operated as a solo striker.
With his ability to both create and convert chances, receive and hold the ball for team-mates, and play centrally or off either wing, the 1 meter 93 cm forward would offer a range of tactical options — either alongside Romelu Lukaku, or as cover for the only center-forward in United's current squad comfortable playing with his back to goal.
Mourinho is also conscious of United's struggle to present Marouane Fellaini with a contract offer that meets the Belgium midfielder's financial demands.
On the assumption that Fellaini is prepared to leave as a free agent, Mourinho wants to add a player with the aerial ability to bolster United's attacking and defensive options as and when the game situation requires it.
Brought to the Premier League in 2013 by Stoke City, Arnautovic knows the division well and has Champions League experience from his time at Werder Bremen. The Austrian is also familiar with Mourinho's training and tactical methods, having spent the 2009/10 season working with him at Inter Milan.
Recruited from Stoke for a guaranteed transfer fee of £20 million ($26 million) last summer, Arnautovic is contracted to West Ham for four more years. With the London club's co-owners the subjects of supporter protests, to which they responded with this week's high-cost appointment of Manuel Pellegrini as manager, recruiting the club's Player of the Year will not be an easy task.
Sources familiar with United's recruitment plans have told Arab News that Mourinho is also considering alternative signings.
One option would be a move for Mario Mandzukic, the Croatia international who can play all across attack and may be made available as part of an aggressive close-season rebuild requested by Juventus manager Massimiliano Allegri.
In principle, Sergej Milinkovic-Savic would be a more direct replacement for Fellaini as the Serbia international has established his reputation in Serie A as a midfielder. Lazio, however, are asking €100 million ($117 million) for the 23-year-old, which United consider too steep an asking price for a player they have some reservations over.
Mourinho's preferred option as a new starting midfielder is Fred, the Brazil international who wants to move to the Premier League and whom United first attempted to sign from Shakhtar Donetsk last year.
Shakhtar rejected an offer of €50 million for the 25-year-old in the January window with both Manchester City and United in pursuit of the Brazilian, according to a source familiar with those negotiations.
While open to the player's sale this summer, the Ukrainian champions have so far insisted that a €60 million release clause is paid in full.


Maurizio Sarri does not fear the sack after Chelsea’s sorry show against Manchester United

Updated 24 min 27 sec ago
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Maurizio Sarri does not fear the sack after Chelsea’s sorry show against Manchester United

  • Italian still focused on job at hand with Blues out the FA Cup and falling in the Premier League.
  • Sarri has lost the fans in a short space of time at Stamford Bridge. (AFP)

LONDON: Maurizio Sarri insists he is not worried about being sacked as Chelsea manager despite his troubled side’s lacklustre FA Cup surrender against Manchester United.
Sarri faces a fight to save his job after FA Cup holders Chelsea crashed to a 2-0 fifth round defeat at Stamford Bridge on Monday.
Ander Herrera headed United into the lead from Paul Pogba’s cross in the 31st minute.
France star Pogba doubled United’s advantage on the stroke of half-time when he met Marcus Rashford’s cross with a diving header.
Sarri endured chants of “you don’t know what you’re doing” and “you’re getting sacked in the morning” as furious Chelsea fans showed their frustration at the club’s fifth defeat in their last 10 games.
Chelsea’s stars, publicly criticized by their manager on several occasions this term, hardly looked to be battling to keep the Italian as they failed to muster a shot on target after the 11th minute.
Sarri’s fragile relationship with his players, combined with the mutinous atmosphere among supporters, increased the feeling that the former Napoli boss might not survive until the end of his first season with Chelsea.
Demanding Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich has acted quickly in the past when managers have been perceived to have lost the support of the squad.
But Sarri is adamant he isn’t concerned about his perilous position and he claimed he is solely focused on salvaging his club’s turbulent season.
Asked if he was worried Abramovich might be ready to wield the axe, Sarri said: “It’s not my problem.
“I was only worried about my position when I was in League 2 in Italy, not now.
“I am worried about the results, not about the fans. Of course I can understand the situation.
“I can understand our fans, because the result wasn’t really good. We are out of the FA Cup.”
Following widespread reports that Sarri’s players are underwhelmed by his stubborn refusal to change his tactics, the 60-year-old did make the alarming admission that he wasn’t certain he still had their backing.
“Of course I’m not sure, but I think so. I think the situation with the players is very good in terms of our relationship but that’s not so important,” he said.
“What’s important is to play and get good results.”
Chelsea supporters called for their club’s former legend Frank Lampard, now in charge at Derby, to be hired and directed foul-mouthed abuse at Sarri.
“Not really very well, but sometimes yes. For everything there is the first time,” he said when quizzed on if he heard the taunts from his own fans.
Sarri believes his situation will be improved significantly if Chelsea can string together a winning run, starting with Thursday’s Europa League last 32 second leg against Malmo and the League Cup final against Manchester City on Sunday.
“It’s really very easy. If we are able to win three or four matches in a row, it will be easy. Of course it’s difficult to win five matches in a row,” he said with a curious smirk that suggested he didn’t really believe his own outward optimism.
“We need of course more aggression, more determination in the situation inside our box and inside the opposing box.
“My job is to work with my players to try and improve in a few days because we conceded the second goal without determination or aggression.
“The difference was there. We played 78 balls in the opposing box and United only 16 balls our box. We are supposed to win.”
Having previously questioned whether his players understood his football philosophy, Sarri repeated that complaint.
“Not completely at the moment because, especially in a situation like the second half, we have to move the ball faster mentally and materially,” he said.
“We need more movements without the ball and less individual actions.”