Stuart Pearce may insist Jesse Lingard’s West Ham return remains a possibility heading into the final week of the transfer window.
But with reports linking the Premier League pacesetters with a number of alternatives, it looks as though the Hammers are finally ready to walk away from their number one target.
Missing out on Lingard may be an upsetting prospect for Hammers fans but it’s not all bad news at the London Stadium.
West Ham are top of the table after all, scoring eight goals in their first two games of the new campaign without Lingard to pull the strings.
The early signs are Pablo Fornals and Said Benrahma, outstanding in Monday’s 4-1 thrashing of Leicester City, are ready to take their game to a whole new level under David Moyes.
Meanwhile, two of the players mentioned as potential alternatives to Lingard look like serious signings in their own right.
Could West Ham sign Jonathan Bamba instead of Jesse Lingard?
Don’t let that ill-fated Everton spell fool you, Nikola Vlasic has blossomed into one of Europe’s best attacking midfielders at CSKA Moscow (Guardian).
Jonathan Bamba, meanwhile, is a man Moyes has wanted since his first spell at the club in 2018 (The Sun).
According to The Express, Bamba is valued at £25 million – not bad for a jet-heeled winger who contributed seven goals and 11 assists as Lille stormed to the Ligue 1 title for the first time since the days of Eden Hazard.
Now we’re not saying Bamba is the second coming of the Real Madrid number seven, but he certainly shares a lot of the same strengths – speed, skill, an eye for goal and a penchant for the unpredictable.
Moyes’ high-octane, wing-heavy approach could be tailor made for him.
Here’s what some West Ham fans on Twitter had to say about the Bamba reports: