It looks like it’s the end of the road for West Ham’s interest in a permanent transfer for Jesse Lingard.

There had been plenty of optimism surrounding the chances of making his loan move permanent this summer, after the England international arrived in January and helped fire us into the top six with nine goals and five assists from 16 appearances.

But as the summer has progressed and Lingard returned to pre-season training with Manchester United, it has become increasingly unlikely that we’ll be seeing Lingard in claret and blue again.

Numerous reports over the last couple of months have been conflicting in how realistic a deal was, with some claiming the player wants to return, to others insisting West Ham were unable to meet Man United’s asking price. Other reports have hinted that Lingard is eager to fight for his place at Old Trafford and others have claimed the Hammers can’t afford his wages.

So it’s little wonder a deal has not progressed beyond speculation and transfer columns thus far, as it’s obvious no one has really known the real facts behind the deal.

But it appears we may have been given a breakthrough in finding out one way or another, with the very reliable ExWHUemployee (via @WHUFCFC) claiming Lingard would actually rather stay at Manchester United this summer or move abroad.

Now, ExWHUemployee has almost always been bang on the money when it comes to delivering transfer information to his followers, but this one is a little harder to believe than most.

Lingard clearly loved every minute of his time in east London earlier in the year and admitted in his farewell Instagram post that the club will forever hold a special place in his heart after a six-month spell that reinvigorated his career.

So it’s hard to believe that, should the opportunity arise before the end of the transfer window, he would turn down the chance to come back.

Of course, that’s me just speculation myself, but it’s just a difficult scenario to envisage after everything that happened earlier this year. Surely, given how much he enjoyed playing for West Ham and how much he was adored by the Hammers faithful, he would want to come back and continue that journey?

Either way, if this is true then it’s time for David Moyes and his recruitment team to move on to other targets as time is running out before the start of the season and, with less than a month before the end of the transfer window, the club cannot afford to stay hung up on a deal that no longer looks likely to happen.