Transfer speculation has created a ‘bad atmosphere’ in West Ham dressing room, admits Pablo Zabaleta

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Blame game

The Hammers have lost three successive games, including a shock FA Cup defeat to League One strugglers AFC Wimbledon

Pablo Zabaleta believes transfer speculation may have derailed West Ham’s season.

The Hammers rejected a £35million bid from Chinese club Shanghai SIPG for star man Marko Arnautovic earlier this month.

Pablo Zabaleta can’t wait until the transfer window closes

Pablo Zabaleta can’t wait until the transfer window closes

The Austria international wanted to leave, with his agent revealing on talkSPORT he was eager to move to China.

But Arnautovic made a dramatic U-turn by signing a contract extension on Saturday.

Javier Hernandez and Pedro Obiang have also been linked with London Stadium exits.

West Ham have lost back-to-back league games against Bournemouth and Wolves and suffered a shock FA Cup exit to League One strugglers AFC Wimbledon last weekend.

And Irons defender Zabaleta has blamed part of their poor form on the January transfer window.

He said: ”Honestly, I think so many situations off the field have been creating a little bit of a bad atmosphere.

“I’m not just saying that is the only thing – because we lost two (league) games.

Marko Arnautovic appeared was keen on a move to China earlier in January

Marko Arnautovic appeared was keen on a move to China earlier in January

“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.

“I can’t wait for February 1 and everyone is back on it again, we need commitment again from everyone.

“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.

“I’m not saying it’s all about Arnautovic, it’s not only his situation. There have been many players, names around the media.

“If we want to become the team we were in December, then we need to bring everyone together and stick together.”

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