No club has an affinity to maverick and mercurial players like West Ham.
Down the years their fans have fallen head over heels for the likes of Paolo Di Canio, Carlos Tevez and Dimitri Payet and, certainly in the latter instance, had their hearts broken.
But now there’s a new poster boy in east London.
Marko Arnautovic doesn’t like the Mario Balotelli comparions, having shared a flat with the wacky Italian at Inter Milan.
But with a penchant for the ridiculous it’s easy to see why the parallels were made, particularly after Balotelli said Arnautovic would ‘make him look like the most boring guy in the world’ when he moved to the Premier League in 2013.
The Austrian told The Telegraph earlier this year: “When I arrived, everybody was saying: ‘The new Balotelli’s here’.
“I said to myself, ‘You can’t go like that, when afterwards your daughter will read everything about you and think that her dad was a crazy man’. My family helped me a lot.”
And Arnautovic is distancing himself from Balotelli on the field too.
While the now Nice striker struggled at Man City and stank the place out at Liverpool, Arnautovic is now a model of consistency and undoubtedly West Ham’s talisman.
It didn’t start that way.
After his £24m move from Stoke last summer Arnie went 11 games without a goal and his body language reeked of a man lost for ideas under Slaven Bilic.
But since then only Mo Salah has been involved in more goals in the Premier League, a tally Arnautovic added to with the opener in the 4-2 win over Burnley on Saturday.
The 29-year-old is a man transformed, fully embracing his switch to the number nine role and getting the goals to boot.
With West Ham splashing out in the summer to bring in Felipe Anderson and Andriy Yarmolenko as able deputies, Arnautovic now has the support to supply him.
Not only does he wear his heart on the sleeve and cross his arms when he celebrates, he has 16 goals in 40 league appearances for the Hammers too.
After Payet chewed them up and spat them out, the fans have a new hero to cherish.
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