Stoke City old boy Marko Arnautovic breaks silence on transfer speculation

Marko Arnautovic poses in shades like Arnold Schwarzenegger in The Terminator but will he back at Stoke City?
-Credit: (Image: Lorenzo Palizzolo - UEFA/UEFA via Getty Images)

Marko Arnautovic is preparing for the European Championships with Austria on the back of a title-winning debut campaign at Inter Milan and speculation over his future at club level.

The 35-year-old former talismanic Stoke City forward has largely been used from the bench on his return to Inter, where he had spent a season on loan early in his career. He has still chipped in with five goals, plus a couple more in the Champions League, as they regained the Italian crown.

Inter, however, have lined up Porto forward Mehdi Taremi, aged 31, to come in this summer and there has been speculation in the Milan press about what this will mean for Arnautovic - and to add to that, what club could attract him and also afford him. He has apparently been clear he only wants to play "football that matters" after a lucrative but difficult spell in China. Inter Live even suggested that Stoke might be the only club who could tick both boxes.

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But the man himself is distancing himself from exit talk and started shaking his head when he was asked about it back home in Austria by Die Presse. He is under contract at Inter for another 12 months.

"I don't know what they're all writing," he said. "They're just making up something out of thin air. Nobody has spoken to me or my manager. I have a contract with Inter, I'm very happy at Inter and I'm staying at Inter."

Arnautovic came through the ranks at Twente in Holland but was part of a Champions League-winning squad on loan at Inter under Jose Mourinho before kicking his career on at Werder Bremen and then becoming a key part of Mark Hughes's attack with Stoke in the Premier League.. He left Stoke in 2017 and his journey has taken him back to the San Siro via West Ham, China and Bologna.

He is not quite so dismissive, however, about the possibility of retiring from international football after the Euros in Germany. Austria are in Group D with Poland, Netherlands and France.

"After the European Championship, I will talk to the people close to me, with my family and also with the coach," he said. "I will then see whether the desire is still there. It's not about the physical aspect. I really enjoy playing for the national team, I'm proud of what I've achieved here. This is my country, I grew up here."

Steven Nzonzi, meanwhile, has ended his first season at Konyaspor, in Turkey. A 3-1 final day defeat to Galatasaray saw them finish just one point above the drop zone, surviving because Ankaragucu lost 4-2 at Trabzonspor.

"What a challenging season we’ve had," he wrote on social media. "Thank you to all the fans for the support and thank you to the club of Konyaspor for the season, we did it all together."

Konyaspor want to keep hold of the midfielder, also 35, and Nzonzi, whose wife is Turkish, is reportedly positive about agreeing terms.

Are there any former Stoke players you'd like back for next season? Have your say in the comments section