Stoke City talisman Marko Arnautovic could be on his way out of the Britannia Stadium after he rejected the club's initial offer to extend his current deal.
Arnautovic, 26, is the club's leading scorer this term with seven goals and it is understood he wants to rival top-earner Xherdan Shaqiri’s pay-packet which currently stands at £70,000-per-week.
According to the Guardian, talks will resume in a fortnight whereby manager Mark Hughes will be eager to tie down the Austrian international for the foreseeable future.
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Stoke have recognised the importance Arnautovic brings to their side and he has flourished under the stewardship of Hughes. Furthermore, he has shaped a formidable relationship with Shaqiri and Bojan Krkic which has seen them provide 21 goals and assists between them this season.
Naturally, Stoke will want a resolution confirmed as quickly as possible so they can alienate any prying clubs that will be sure to show an interest should Arnautovic confirm his intentions not to sign.
The Austrian ace has been Stoke’s standout player this season and has proved a handful for defenders up and down the land – recently he scored the winning goal against Everton and notched both goals when the Potters ran out 2-0 winners over Manchester City.
However, the 6’2” hitman’s demands will somewhat unsettle the club’s hierarchy as they will not want to break the club's wage structure. Shaqiri has perhaps been an exception to this rule but a player of such talent was only going to sign if the money was right.
Nonetheless, Stoke need to be careful they don’t ‘bend the rules’ for every player who comes knocking as the club's finances will spiral out of control.
Arnautovic made the switch from Werder Bremen to Staffordshire in 2013 for just £3 million - a deal which now looks like a bargain.