'Arnautovic situation created bad atmosphere' - West Ham's Zabaleta can't wait for transfer window to close

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Speculation has been rampant through January about the future of the club's star man and their form has suffered for it

West Ham right-back Pablo Zabaleta has admitted that the speculation around Marko Arnautovic's future at the club has created a 'bad atmosphere'.

Arnautovic has been continuously linked with a move to China in a search for bigger wages, but the Austrian put an end to all rumours last week by announcing his intention to stay at the London Stadium before signing a new deal .

The striker missed the recent losses against Bournemouth in the Premier League and AFC Wimbledon in the FA Cup during the period when there were whispers he was unsettled at the club.

Zabaleta feels 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.

"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."

Manuel Pellegrini's side have struggled recently and Arnautovic returned to the starting XI before limping off in the 77th minute as the Hammers were beaten 3-0 by Wolves on Tuesday.

Argentine defender Zabaleta now just wants the transfer window to end so that everyone can focus on the task at hand as they chase a Europa League spot.

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"I can't wait for February 1 and everyone is back on it again, we need commitment again from everyone," he added.

"I understand January is a difficult month for clubs, because you can have big interest in your best players. But Arnie was out of the squad for two games, he's been the main player for us.

"When you see so much speculation around the team, players moving on, or some coming in, that can distract a little bit with the atmosphere in the dressing room, it's hard for the manager as well."

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