Nottingham Forest are reportedly set to snatch Jesse Lingard from under West Ham’s nose amid speculation the former Manchester United star flew to London for talks with Evangelos Marinakis on Tuesday night.
Lingard is a free agent after leaving Old Trafford following the expiration of his contract this summer and has been heavily linked with a return to the Hammers.
But, according to The Guardian, Forest have swooped in and held ‘productive discussions’ with the former England international and have now tabled a ‘lucrative offer’.
It comes amid speculation that Lingard boarded a flight to London on Tuesday night, on which he posted pictures of himself on a private aircraft and inside the plane’s cockpit.
Fans using flight tracking software believe he was on a plane flying from Manchester to Biggin Hill, on the outskirts of London, ahead of talks with Forest owner Marinakis.
It’s thought Lingard wants a deal worth around £180,000-a-week, which would be a huge outlay for Forest after they have already spent upwards of £60million ahead of their Premier League return.
West Ham are reportedly buckling at those demands from Lingard, despite holding prolonged negotiations with the attacking midfielder.
There appears to be some confusion over the state of both clubs’ moves for Lingard, however, with Forest expecting him to still join West Ham while the Hammers believe he will go elsewhere.
David Moyes is desperate to be reunited with Lingard in east London, given how he flourished during a loan spell at the London Stadium in the second half of the 2020-21 campaign.
Lingard contributed nine goals and five assists in 16 appearances for the Hammers as they qualified for the Europa League.
Whoever signs Lingard will have to get him up to speed as quickly as possible, given he is yet to undertake any pre-season training and the Premier League season starts in less than three weeks.
Other clubs are tracking Lingard, such as Everton, Leicester, Newcastle and Tottenham. MLS clubs and a team in Saudi Arabia are also interested.
Steve Cooper’s Forest have already bought Taiwo Awoniyi from Union Berlin, Neco Williams from Liverpool, Moussa Niakhate from Mainz, Giulian Biancone of Troyes and Bayern Munich’s Omar Richards.