By CandH’s northern man Terry Robbins
Manchester United believe that if the Irons secure Champions League football, they have lost all chance of holding onto Jesse Lingard this summer.
And our sources in Manchester have told Claret & Hugh the Red Devils fear it will also KO any hopes they have of trying to ramp up an auction for his signature.
Old Trafford chiefs have yet to open formal talks with Lingard over his immediate future, with club insiders also admitting United may already have left it “too late” in offer the midfielder a new deal which would keep him at the club.
Jesse has 12 months remaining on his deal and reports in recent days have suggested United are ready to demand closer to £50m this summer, owing to his incredible displays for Hammers since his arrival on loan.
However, my senior sources in Manchester have learned United’s executives are currently accept he will certainly be gone if we secure a top four finish.
Added to Lingard’s very close relationship to David Moyes, the odds will be stacked heavily in West Ham’s favour if we do reach the Champions League promised land.
Our United source revealed: “United are doing their best to bluff out a difficult situation, letting it be known they are ready to hold out for bigger money, but the reality behind the scenes is much more resigned to the realities.
“Unless Jesse signs a new deal to stay, United will sell before the summer is out. Lingard is in the box seat and the bosses in Manchester are already factoring what leverage they would have left if West Ham have Champions League football to offer him.
“Unless another top-four team comes forward, which is considered unlikely, United fear West Ham with Champions League football on offer would be the most attractive deal for Jesse.”