Date: 29th July 2017 at 11:04am
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Stoke chairman Peter Coates has admitted his disappointment at Marko Arnautovic following his exit to West Ham, which has seen the Austrian say he’s joined a ‘bigger and more ambitious’ club.

Coates told talkSPORT he felt Stoke had ‘resurrected’ Arnautovic’s career in Staffordshire during his four year spell with the Potters making him a household name in football, which meant he was disappointed to lose the forward.

‘I was very disappointed because he is a wonderful player. We are disappointed in him personally and [with] the people around him. We resurrected his career. Our manager and coaches worked very hard to improve him – and they’ve done that. They made him a name in the game.’

Yes, it could be argued Stoke didn’t have to sell Arnautovic but once it became clear he wanted to leave (again) Coates accepted his request and he joined West Ham when a third bid, reportedly around £25m, met the Potters’ asking price.

Having turned down Everton’s offers last summer, which had also seen the forward express a desire to join the Merseysiders, Arnautovic was handed a new long-term deal.

Admittedly, Coates expected him to honour this but knows Stoke is about the club and not one player.

‘Last year we put so much effort into giving him a long-term contract which was supposed to be it, and first thing we get in the summer he comes back and wants to leave,’ added Coates. ‘So yes, we are very disappointed but the team is more important than the individual.’

Meanwhile, after some widespread criticism of Arnautovic, 28, following his transfer to the London Stadium the forward has responded as he looks to answer his critics.

He’s told Sky Sports the move was right for him and, having become the Hammers’ club record signing, Arnautovic has joined a better club, in his opinion.

‘To the fans I was let’s say the hero and now I am zero. But that’s football. The one thing I can say is, I am happy to be here and happy to play for West Ham. Of course it was tough for me because the fans over the years were very supportive of me, but I came to a point where I wanted to see something different.’

Adding: ‘I wanted to join West Ham because, for me, it’s a bigger club and more ambitious. We can see with the signings that we’ve made and the players that are already at the club. I think we have a perfect team and now we have to show it on the pitch.’

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