Arnautovic to stay at West Ham despite ‘very tempting’ offer

              West Ham's Marko Arnautovic reacts during the English Premier League soccer match between West Ham United and Arsenal at London Stadium in London, Saturday, Jan. 12, 2019. (AP Photo/Tim Ireland)

LONDON (AP) — Marko Arnautovic signed a contract extension at West Ham on Saturday, hours after declaring his intention to stay with the English Premier League club despite a “very tempting” offer from a Chinese team.

“I love this club and I will always love this club no matter what,” Arnautovic said in a statement released by West Ham. “You have decisions you have to make in life, but I say from now it doesn’t matter what happens I will always love West Ham.”

Late on Friday, the Austria forward wrote on Instagram that it was time to “put a stop to all the writings and speculation,” having needed time to talk to his family and West Ham about his future.

“I want to put the offers aside,” he wrote, “help the club to climb as high as possible in the (Premier League) table and try to win the (FA) Cup.”

West Ham lost to third-tier AFC Wimbledon 4-2 in the FA Cup on Saturday, with Arnautovic left out of the matchday squad. Minutes after the fulltime whistle, West Ham announced the new deal for Arnautovic, whose previous contract ran until 2022.

“I’m happy for this,” he said, “and I want to say to the fans that I’m happy to stay.”

The 29-year-old Arnautovic was left out of West Ham’s squad for the Premier League game against Bournemouth last weekend. He returned to training this week.

“Marko Arnautovic never refused (to play or train),” he said in the club statement. “I would never refuse.”

West Ham is 10th in the 20-team Premier League.