David Moyes is hopeful that Jesse Lingard will want to stay at West Ham beyond his loan spell from Manchester United, and is set for a huge test this Sunday which could force his hand.
The Irons visit Old Trafford on Sunday looking to pull off a result to stay firmly in the mix for Champions League qualification, but will be without the ex-England international, who is ineligible to face his parent club.
Lingard will likely be a big miss for the Hammers having hit an outstanding vein of form since moving to the east Londoners, with the 28-year-old netting four and assisting two goals in six Premier League games.
West Ham will likely have the chance to try and purchase Lingard at the end of the season with his long-term Manchester United future appearing bleak, despite Ole Gunnar Solskjaer stating that he would be open to welcoming the midfielder back.
Lingard will have just a year remaining on his £100,000-per-week Red Devils contract in the summer and has been touted to have a £20m valuation after the Old Trafford natives rejected the Irons’ offer of a £15m clause being inserted into their loan agreement.
Moyes hopes to be able to reach an agreement with Manchester United to sign Lingard permanently at some stage, and that the Hammers’ push for European football will make the London Stadium an attractive long-term home.
“I hope we’re going to be in a position to attract many players in the future, because of our league position, because we’re a club with stature, we’re in London, we have a 60,000-plus stadium which will be full every week. I think all those things go in our favour,” Moyes said, via quotes shared by the Daily Mail.
“Jesse wanted to come here, right from the start. When I was talking to him, he wanted to come to West Ham. He saw it as a really good place for him. I think he’ll have seen what we’re trying to do.
“He’s joined a good group of players as well. We’ve got international players and I’m hoping we can add to that in the coming transfer window. The job is to try to add to that. But I would hope Jesse sees this as a good place if it’s possible to be done, and if we think that we want to do it at the end of the season.”
Sunday’s meeting with Manchester United will be a big test for West Ham in how they cope without Lingard, and appearing vastly flat-footed in the attacking midfield line will only increase the Irons’ need of striking a permanent deal for the 24-cap England international.
Lingard has been West Ham’s most influential player over his few appearances to date, with Michail Antonio netting the east London outfit’s second-most goals with two along with offering two assists in that time.
The Manchester United product has further offered the most shots (3.2) and second-most key passes (1.2) per Premier League game of any Hammers player all season, to earn WhoScored’s best average match rating for the Irons’ squad at 7.41 out of 10.
Declan Rice could only wax lyrical over Lingard after scoring in West Ham’s London derby win over Tottenham Hotspur last month and told talkSPORT that he would like the club to strike a permanent deal for the “ridiculously top, top player”.
Lingard at least seems willing to consider a long-term future in claret and blue, with Irons insider ExWHUemployee claiming earlier this week that the 2016 FA Cup winner has expressed a desire to join permanently.
All things would point to a deal being struck at the end of the season if Manchester United warm to a move, and a flat West Ham performance on Sunday could force their hand toward opening negotiations.