West Ham boss Manuel Pellegrini was glad to draw a line under the Marko Arnautovic saga after admitting it had affected his side’s performances.

Austria striker Arnautovic had his head turned by a big-money offer from China and was left out of the squad for the defeat at Bournemouth and Saturday’s FA Cup humiliation at AFC Wimbledon.

But less than half-an-hour after the Wimbledon debacle, West Ham suddenly announced that the 29-year-old had signed a contract extension.

Hammers boss Pellegrini – not at all impressed by the whole drawn-out saga – refused to even discuss Arnautovic’s new deal following their abject 4-2 defeat.

But ahead of Tuesday’s trip to Wolves, where Arnautovic is expected to go straight back into the starting line-up, Pellegrini opened up on the issue.

“I have a lot of excuses why we lost at Wimbledon, one of those was that the January transfer window can cause damage to the team,” he said.

“For all the issues that a player wants to go, they have other options.

“But I am happy that Marko has finished his issue, he is happy here. I hope that we will have the player that he can be in the coming games.

“A lot of things affect the players, that’s why I don’t want to continue talking about that because I don’t want to make excuses.

“We made a mistake and we lost a game against Wimbledon. I hope that now – when the transfer window is closed – that not only Marko but other players who are hearing some offers, they will be concentrated on what we must do.”

Arnautovic is West Ham’s joint top-scorer with eight goals and Pellegrini has challenged him to hit the ground running upon his return to the team.

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But despite agreeing a year-long extension until 2023, Pellegrini could offer no reassurance that the whole affair would not rear its head again in the summer.

He added: “Marko has already demonstrated what he can do, he made an important difference, I hope that from now until the end of the season he will do it again.

“His long-term future? We can talk at the end of the season about that, now our mind must be concentrated on Wolverhampton.”

Pellegrini also confirmed that young defender Reece Oxford was available for either a loan deal or a permanent move away from the club this month.

Press Association

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