Reports by The Telegraph earlier this week claimed West Ham United may emerge as a ‘realistic option’ for Ross Barkley should the midfielder have no future at Chelsea next season.
And David Moyes sealing a deal for the 27-year-old could see the Irons boss discover his heir to Jesse Lingard, with the London Stadium outfit not in possession of an option to retain the Manchester United loanee.
West Ham are expected to try and do whatever it takes to keep Lingard in claret and blue long-term, having seen the England international strike eight goals and provide three assists in nine Premier League appearances since his January arrival.
Moyes has even marked Lingard and the capture of a new centre-forward as his priorities for the summer market, but West Ham could face an asking price as high as £30m and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has refused to be drawn on potentially offering him a new contract.
If negotiations with the Red Devils prove daunting and no resolution appears in sight, West Ham could turn their attentions to Barkley with the London Stadium considered a ‘realistic option’ for the £18m-rated maestro.
Moyes is claimed to be a big fan of Barkley and may be given the chance to acquire his services if Thomas Tuchel overlooks the Englishman upon his return from a season-long loan with Aston Villa.
The move to Villa Park was expected to see Barkley gain regular minutes and then return to Stamford Bridge to take on a regular role in Frank Lampard’s squad, but those plans went out the window in line with the Blues legend being fired.
Barkley has also lost the backing of Villans boss Dean Smith, who has not started the Everton product in any of his side’s last seven Premier League games after struggling to rediscover his early form following a hamstring injury.
Smith praised Barkley for being “technically gifted” after helping Villa beat Arsenal 3-0 at the Emirates Stadium in November, and suggested he would be nudging Gareth Southgate for a recall to the England set-up.
But, more recently, Smith has expressed that Barkley has not been playing to his previous standards, and he will likely now return to Stamford Bridge at the end of the season to face whatever uncertainty comes his way.
Barkley may be met with Chelsea deciding to sell him, with The Mirror reporting earlier this month that the south west Londoners could recoup a decent fee through his sale while helping to slash their wage bill by moving on his £96,000-per-week contract.
Moyes, then, could discover his new Lingard by launching efforts to sign Barkley if he does leave Stamford Bridge and the Manchester United loanee heads back to Old Trafford.
A vote of confidence saw Barkley burst out of the gates with goals for Aston Villa against Liverpool and Leicester City in October, like West Ham have seen from Lingard since his mid-season arrival with a double on debut at Villa Park.
The goals and assists are yet to dry up for Lingard, but it remains to be seen if a permanent transfer can be arranged, making Barkley’s situation one Moyes has to keep an eye on in case the West Ham boss ultimately needs to discover his next midfield maestro.
AND in other news, West Ham are weighing up a £21.5m swoop for a “great” 10-goal striker…