West Ham United right-back Pablo Zabaleta has revealed that the speculation and rumours around Marko Arnautovic have not had a positive effect on the squad. Over the past few weeks Arnautovic has been linked with a move to China, but last week he put an end to all the rumours by signing a new contract at West Ham.
While Arnautovic was left outside the West Ham squad, the Hammers lost two games in a row against Bournemouth in the Premier League and AFC Wimbledon in the FA Cup. Zabaleta firmly believes speculation around Arnautovic has caused morale at West Ham to drop after three straight defeats.
“Honestly, I think so many situations off the field have been creating a little bit of a bad atmosphere,” Zabaleta told Sky Sports. “I’m not just saying that is the only thing – because we lost two (league) games. I remember in December, when we had a good run, you could see West Ham playing as a team.”
“In January, it’s been tough on and off the field, and the only good thing was the win against Arsenal”, he added. “But the reality is if you want to be a better team and be in a better position then you can’t go from beating Arsenal to losing three games against two mid-table teams and a smaller team in the FA Cup.”