West Ham United are quietly optimistic over the prospect of signing Manchester United loanee Jesse Lingard this summer, according to reports. The 28-year-old has impressed on a regular basis since joining the Hammers in January and has been tipped to make the switch on a permanent basis at the end of the season.
Lingard has chipped in with eight goals and four assists in just nine appearances for West Ham, spearheading the club’s bid to secure a top-four finish for the first time in the Premier League era.
The midfielder was rewarded for his excellent form with a return to the England squad for last month’s World Cup qualifiers against San Marino and Poland.
He was shipped out by United in January after failing to work his way into Ole Gunnar Solskjaer‘s plans for the season, with Bruno Fernandes and Donny van de Beek firmly ahead of him in the pecking order.
Lingard now appears to have found a new lease of life in east London, and could well look to stay with his temporary employers into next season and beyond.
West Ham are understood to be keen on making an approach, with the playmaker emerging as one of their most important assets since the turn of the year.
However, questions have remained over whether United would be open to parting ways with Lingard after witnessing his rapid return to form.
The Hammers are determined to capitalise on the uncertainty surrounding his Old Trafford future and are gearing up to pursue a move at the end of the season, according to BBC Sport.
The report claims that West Ham are confident that a fee can be agreed given Lingard’s contract situation at United.
His current deal is set to expire at the end of next season after the Red Devils triggered a one-year extension back in December.
This leaves the 20-time Premier League champions with the problem of losing their man for nothing in a year’s time if they refuse to cash in during the summer months.
The short-term nature of Lingard’s contract is said to be fuelling West Ham’s belief that an agreement will be possible at the end of the campaign.
The player himself admitted last month that he was enduring a tricky spell at United prior to his loan exit, revealing that his stunning form at West Ham has been aided by the return of his passion for playing football.
“It was a tough period building up to the loan,” Lingard told BBC Sport.
“I felt like I deserved to be playing for United, but obviously, I knew in myself I had to go on loan. So there was a range of emotions, I was going through all sorts.
“So just to get it over the line and sign the papers was a good feeling. I think you just have to believe in yourself and believe in your ability.
“It would have been quite easy for me to give up and fall off. At the time it was hard. You train all week, building up to the game and then not getting picked is difficult for any player.
“There was a time in lockdown when I just looked back at some old England games, and games that I played well in for United, just to get the fire in my belly again.
“Since coming here, I’ve had targets written down on a board and until I hit them, I won’t be fulfilled.”
Lingard will be looking to make another vital contribution as West Ham take on Newcastle United on Saturday in a match that could have significant ramifications at both ends of the Premier League table.