LONDON • West Ham are set on making a strong challenge for the upcoming English Premier League season, having announced the signing of Marko Arnautovic from Stoke on a five-year deal for a club-record fee, believed to be in excess of around £20 million (S$35.42 million).
The 28-year-old forward had been agitating for a move and after rejecting two earlier bids, Stoke finally relented.
He will bolster the Hammers' squad following the additions of Pablo Zabaleta, 32, and Joe Hart, 30, on loan from Manchester City, and the imminent transfer of Mexico striker Javier Hernandez, 29 .
"It feels special to me to be a West Ham player," said Arnautovic, who has 62 international caps for Austria.
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"Everyone knows that West Ham is a big club, with big history and I'm happy to be a part of it now. I can't wait to get started.
"I played against West Ham at the old stadium. I didn't play last year at the new stadium because I was suspended but I came to the game and I can only say it is a massive club with a lot of fans. They are crazy for football and this is what I like.
"The club is still growing, getting better and better and that's why I'm here."
The fee, which West Ham confirmed was a club record, was reported by British media to be up to about £25 million, exceeding the £20.5 million the club paid Swansea for Andre Ayew last year.
Arnautovic joined Stoke in 2013 from Bundesliga side Werder Bremen for £2.3 million and quickly established himself as a regular in the side, scoring 26 goals in 145 appearances for the club.
West Ham's joint-chairman David Sullivan added: "We're delighted to have completed Marko's transfer from Stoke City.
"Alongside Pablo Zabaleta and Joe Hart we have brought in three players with vast Premier League experience this summer, and that was one of our key targets as we look ahead to the new season.
"Marko will bring plenty of quality to our front line and I'm excited to see him in a claret and blue shirt."
THE GUARDIAN, REUTERS