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.


Ahmed Barman out to toast Al-Ain success in FIFA Club World Cup

Updated 11 December 2018
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Ahmed Barman out to toast Al-Ain success in FIFA Club World Cup

  • Tournament gets under way on Wednesday when Al-Ain take on Team Wellington at home.
  • UAE midfielder sure his side can cause a few shocks.

LONDON: While he is only too aware of the quality opposition they have to face, Al-Ain midfielder Ahmed Barman is backing “The Boss” to scare a few teams in the FIFA Club World Cup.
The tournament gets under way when the UAE outfit face Team Wellington on their home ground in the opener today. Last year saw fellow Arabian Gulf League side Al-Jazira reach the semifinal where they gave Real Madrid a huge fright before narrowly losing 2-1. And inspired by that march to the last four, Barman is looking for Al-Ain to go one better and become the first Emirati side to make the final.
“The FIFA Club World Cup is a global competition coveted by every club,” Barman said. “Al-Ahli, Al-Jazira and Al-Wahda participated in this tournament before and did their part, putting the UAE on the world map. We at Al-Ain hope to reach the semi-final, as Al-Jazira did, or do even better.”
Before any tournament it is only natural to dream of glory and lifting the trophy in front of adoring fans. But the midfielder is not getting too cocky, revealing that despite having home advantage Al-Ain are taking absolutely nothing for granted, starting with Wednesday’s clash against the Kiwis.
“There’s no doubt that we’re aiming to reach the final and face a giant like Real Madrid, but first we have to focus on our opening match against Team Wellington,” the 24-year-old said.
“We need to win to progress from this round and play the subsequent games until we reach the final against Real Madrid and show a standard of play the UAE can be proud of.”
Barman is not anticipating an easy opener.
“Team Wellington are a very good team with considerable ability. They won their local league and the OFC Champions League, which proves they’re powerful.
“So, all our focus is on this opening match. We’re annualizing our opponents to understand their capabilities as we prepare to perform well on the pitch and get positive result.”
The UAE champions did not have the best preparation for their stab at Club World Cup glory, losing 5-2 to Al-Wasl in the UAE President’s Cup at the weekend.
That result, while clearly not ideal, has not bothered the side’s coach.
“We cannot win every game, what is gone is gone, it’s full concentration on the match ahead,” Zoran Mamic said.
“There are no rules that Al-Ain cannot lose games, that’s why I don’t make any drama.”
But while Barman was keen to invoke the memory of Al-Jazira’s march to the last four, his boss was less so, telling his team to focus on the match at hand before getting ahead of themselves.
“We are not here to talk about last year, just as we are not here to talk about the future,” the Croatian said. “We are here to represent the club in the best possible way. We focus on the match at hand and everything will take care of itself.”
Of today’s opponents he added: “We have watched all their games, we know their strengths and where they are not so strong. They are particularly good offensively, they play with fast wingers and a striker who is a good scorer, they play a system that is unusual to us because no teams in the Emirates play with three in the last line. If we do our job we will (have) a good match.”