Opinion: West Ham’s selling of £20m ace was a bigger mistake than Sebastian Haller’s exit

Finding a player with an innate ability to consistently score goals is a challenging and exhaustive process, often deemed impossible by some. West Ham knows this struggle all too well, having spent large sums of money on numerous underwhelming forwards over the years. One such example is Sebastian Haller, who arrived in 2019 for a club-record fee of £45m but failed to impress, scoring just 14 goals in 53 games before moving on, writes the FFC.

Since then, Haller’s form has been exceptional, scoring 47 goals in 66 appearances for Ajax before moving to Borussia Dortmund and adding four more goals in 17 games. West Ham could certainly use a player with that kind of scoring record, as they have only managed 34 goals in 32 Premier League fixtures this season and have lacked a dominant focal point in their attack.

With top-flight survival looking increasingly likely, David Moyes and the board face the daunting task of finding a free-scoring striker who can make an impact at the London Stadium. One player who once captivated the Irons’ faithful was Marko Arnautovic, whose departure in 2019, the same year Haller joined, may have been an even bigger loss for Moyes’ men than Haller’s eventual exit.

In 2013, the Austrian forward Marko Arnautovic joined Stoke City from Werder Bremen. He was highly praised by then-manager Mark Hughes, who hailed his potential and described him as an outstanding talent. Hughes also commended his power, pace, and technical ability, which he believed would be valuable to the team. Arnautovic quickly became a crucial player for Stoke, contributing to their success in finishing ninth in the Premier League for three consecutive seasons. He even topped the club’s scoring charts in the 2015/16 campaign.

After his impressive spell at Stoke, Arnautovic made a £20m move to West Ham where he scored 11 goals in his debut season, becoming the first Hammers player since Bobby Zamora in 2007 to reach double figures in a campaign. He was also named Hammer of the Year. The Austrian forward continued his fine form in his second season at the London Stadium, finishing as the club’s top scorer with ten goals.

The Daily Telegraph’s chief football correspondent, Jason Burt, praised Arnautovic for his skill and power, saying that few players can match him when he is fired up. In his 65 appearances for West Ham in all competitions, Arnautovic contributed to 34 goals, which is an impressive record. Former Shanghai Port FC player is now playing for Bologna in Italy, where he is their joint top scorer with eight goals in Serie A.

Arnautovic remains a captivating and entertaining force to be reckoned with and his record eclipses that of West Ham’s former striker Haller, suggesting that the club may have done more to keep him in the East End.