Peter Coates didn’t quite know what to expect – or dread – when Stoke City signed Marko Arnautovic on this day in 2013.
Arnautovic joined on a four-year contract from Werder Bremen for an initial £2.6m, with Stephen Ireland also arriving on loan from Aston Villa to complete an under-the-radar first transfer window of the Mark Hughes era.
“They are both talented players,” Coates told the Sentinel, “and are joining a club that will hopefully bring the best out of them.
“Mark has been out to see the striker (Arnautovic) in Germany and likes him. He’s got a bit of a chequered history on the personal side, but he is coming to a club with a squad of good professionals and that should be good for him.
“Certain clubs work for certain players and we are hoping he’s going to be the striker who can score the goals for us because that has been one of our deficiencies.”
Immediately there were calls to the Sentinel sports desk from German reporters, warning us what to expect.
Yet six years on, in October last season, Coates would include Arnautovic in his all-time best Stoke City XI. That is no mean feat.
The forward had left by that point, of course, for mega money in China via mega money at West Ham.
But he left his mark – and here are a few quotes from those who knew him best.
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Mark Hughes: “We had Marko Arnautovic, who was a little bit of a maverick as everyone knows and at times could be difficult to manage – but on his day he was unplayable.”
He added when talking about Stoke’s 6-1 win over Liverpool: “A great player, good power, strength, ability on the ball. On the day he was against Emre Can, which was a little bit of a mismatch in my view and caused untold problems on this left side. He was influential in a number of the situations of the game and probably should have scored a couple himself.”
Marc Muniesa: “Marko has the pace, the quality to dribble, to assist and to score – and this year (2015/16) he has scored a lot of goals and made a lot of assists. He’s taken us to another level.
“He’s a good guy, he’s funny … a little bit crazy sometimes, but I like to play with him.”
Geoff Cameron: “He’s given himself a nickname. He wants us to call him ‘The King’. He’s the biggest clown in the changing room and he knows it… although you can’t understand what he’s saying half the time.”
Steven Nzonzi: “The Liverpool match was the best final game I could imagine. It is one of my best memories. I will never forget Marko Arnautovic asking the fans to chant my name. He’s my boy, a good guy and a great player.”
Xherdan Shaqiri said: “He plays for the team and that’s the most important thing. He always helps the team.”
Joselu: “He’s a very good guy, a very funny guy and we laugh a lot with him. We spend a lot of time together. He’s a good guy for the dressing room.”
Mark Bowen: “He can be high maintenance sometimes. I get phone calls from him on days off when he’s querying this or that.
“Perhaps like a racehorse, he needs the sun on his back. But he does put a shift in. I know sometimes that fans talk about his body language, but you only have to look at his statistics to see the work he puts in.”
Mame Diouf: “Marko scores a lot of goals for the team and he’s always there when we need him.”
Bojan, looking back on 2015/16: “He’s played a lot of games this year at a good, good level. He’s scored a lot of goals for us.”
Ryan Shawcross, when he and Arnautovic both initially claimed a goal against Middlesbrough: “I’ve looked at it again, but Arnie being Arnie wants the goal for himself and he’s our star player so I’ll let him have it… If Arnie’s happy, we’re all happy. He’s here to score the goals and it’s my job to keep clean sheets, he can have it!”
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Charlie Adam, when Arnautovic handed in a transfer request in 2017: “Marko’s a massive figure at the club. I’m going to say it from the players’ point of view. He’s a wonderful player and he’s done a great job for us, but something has changed and he’s made a decision.
“He wants to look after his family. The club have a say in it and won’t make it easy for him, which is right. You can’t just turn up, hand a transfer request in and then expect to leave. The club will make it difficult for him.
“He’s our best player. It’s a shock, but the club will deal with it in the right way and the manager will deal with it in the right way.
“And I know that for however long he is here Marko will put 100 per cent in and try his best for the team and to try to get results.
“As a player in his situation you want to get it sorted sooner rather than later, but the club will have the final decision and they’ll stand strong.”