Jon Walters sent emphatic Marko Arnautovic demand in unlikely Stoke City reunion

Jonathan Walters, now back at Stoke City as sporting director, and Marko Arnautovic helped produce some of the best football at Stoke City since the 1970s.
Jonathan Walters, now back at Stoke City as sporting director, and Marko Arnautovic helped produce some of the best football at Stoke City since the 1970s. -Credit:Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

There has been almost universal double response among Stoke City faithful to suggestions out of Italy that Italy might find a new, old home for Marko Arnautovic at the bet365 Stadium.

Arnautovic, now aged 35, has been regularly used largely from the bench as Inter, who he joined last summer from Bologna, have won the Serie A title. He has 12 months left on a reported £3 million-a-year contract, which Inter "pretty much inherited" from Bologna - but Mehdi Taremi, aged 31, has been lined up from Porto as a summer replacement.

Inter insiders have been trying to work out who could afford Arnautovic, with an asking price of about £4.3m, and where he might be tempted to go - and came up with the suggestion that Stoke was the only club.

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The reaction has been almost a consensus, along the lines of: "This seems very unlikely... but imagine if his old pal Jon Walters could make it happen."

There are memories of the moments he produced alongside Walters under Mark Hughes between 2013 and 2017 but others who still harbour grudges about how he ended up leaving, getting a bumper pay day at West Ham United.

If history is repeating itself, he will leave Inter - where he spent a season at the age of 20 - and head to Germany for a couple or three years and then wind up back at Stoke when he is still a little bit younger than Stanley Matthews was when he returned from Blackpool. Or maybe not.

There are about 70 players who have had two spells at Stoke, also including Alan Hudson, Adrian Heath, Mickey Thomas, John Ritchie, Andy Griffin and Danny Higginbotham. Mark Stein came back on loan from Chelsea, Alan Dodd returned after three years with Wolves. There were short second stays Brynjar Gunnarsson and Wayne Biggins and Harry Davies was a legend in the 1920s and 30s either side of a spell with Huddersfield.

It is a big leap from the Champions League to the Championship but Arnautovic could be tempted by a move from Milan to somewhere like Florence, which would mean he could catch the supporter bus to Stoke games from the Wacky Warehouse.

Anyway, you have all been having your say. What do you think? Join in the debate in the comments section.

Andy Lake: Never going to happen. But imagine him, Manhoef and Junho all linking up in attack.... Smash defences to bits...

Simon Armitt: If true and he could do a job for a year or two, then why not? He is one of the best footballers to have graced our pitch as part of our team. Yes he left under a bit of a cloud but who really cares? The very first time he takes down a cross field ball on the outside of his boot and lashes an unstoppable shot past a flailing keeper in front of the Boothen, he becomes a hero again. Just saying, football fans are fickle.

Debbie Jayne Johnson: Hell no, we need youth with the want to play and the hunger he's great when he wants to be we need consistent players.

Andy Rees: Depends on which one we get, the brilliant one or the stroppy one.

Gareth Perry: Absolutely 100 per cent. Welcome with open arms. Come on Arnie, come on home.

Chris Shenton: No brainer. Didn’t Pulis get us up to the premier league by getting the team full of seasoned pros who knew what was needed.

Jamie Forrester: Best player I’ve ever seen play for Stoke live. 100 per cent play him upfront 20 goals in the Champ even at his age.

Mark Scutchings: After the manner he left?

Andy Cruxton: Are we getting the band back together? Get Crouchy to pick Huth and Odemwingie up on the way! What a return it would be for Arnie. Never happen in a squillion years, but fun to think about.

Jamie Cliffe: Thought we ended the phase of retirement home fc. We don't need old players because they used to play for us, we need young blood who want to fight not someone who wants a year’s free wages. We learnt our lesson with the likes of Powell and Gayle surely? I loved him in the Prem era but we don't need him now bring in some young quality for what he will want paying.

Steve Tranter: This guy was way out of our league and gave us some absolutely sublime football. He destroyed defences on his own at times.

He did what every other footballer does and moved to another club then got destroyed on his return with West Ham. Then people wonder why he aimed a celebration at Stokies in the Boothen. He would be a brilliant signing in my opinion.

Alex Thorley: Take him back in a heartbeat! What a fantastic player he was.

Andrew Evans: It’s obviously not happening, but the best player at Stoke for a long time.

Charlene Hobain: For the love of god, just no. We’ve not long cleared out the bad attitudes.

Avtar Devgon: Why do people look at age? Look at his fitness levels and if he can play in one of the best leagues in the world, the Championship isn’t going to out do his skills and quality.

He’s matured since he left Stoke and he had that bad boy image because of the media. He’s not the long term answer, but would still do a better job than any of our forwards remaining at the club.

Where does Arnautovic rank among Stoke's best players? Have your say in the comments section