London – West Ham manager Manuel Pellegrini admitted he left Marko Arnautovic out of the squad for Saturday’s 2-0 defeat at Bournemouth because the Austrian is distracted by talk of a potential lucrative move to China.
Arnautovic is looking to force through a transfer to the Chinese Super League after Shanghai SIPG had a reported £35 million bid rejected by the Premier League club.
And Pellegrini decided he wasn’t in the right frame of mind to feature at Dean Court.
“Marko has his head on another issue so I thought it was not a good idea for him to play today,” Pellegrini said.
“I don’t think we need to continue talking about players that are not in the squad in this moment. I never complain about players who are not here.
“We couldn’t win and, if Marko Arnautovic didn’t play, we have another player that must do it.”
Shanghai are said to be willing to improve their offer and Pellegrini conceded on Thursday that the 29-year-old would be allowed to depart, subject to a “good deal for both parties” being agreed.
Arnautovic, the club’s joint leading scorer with eight goals, played in last weekend’s 1-0 win over Arsenal following the first reports of the China offer.