Jesse Lingard set for rough West Ham reception after snubbing summer return in favour of Nottingham Forest

Reunion: Nottingham Forest midfielder Jesse Lingard faces his old West Ham team-mates this weekend  (Getty Images)
Reunion: Nottingham Forest midfielder Jesse Lingard faces his old West Ham team-mates this weekend (Getty Images)

Monopoly sets will be raided across east London tomorrow, as West Ham fans prepare to travel to Nottingham for a reunion with Jesse Lingard.

It has been only three weeks since the England midfielder turned down the chance to return to the London Stadium, where he enjoyed such a brilliant loan spell two seasons ago, in favour of joining newly-promoted Forest.

There were reports of eye-watering sums involved in a free transfer that was anything but, the exact figures a matter of semantics: excluding, including, add-ons, clauses, bonuses, post-tax, pre-tax. The bottom line was that West Ham offered him a lot of money. Forest offered a bit more.

When asked last week whether he was surprised Lingard had chosen a potential relegation fight over European football, boss David Moyes said: “Yeah, I was. I thought Jesse would come here.”

The ire Hammers fans feel — and will display towards the 29-year-old at the City Ground’s first Premier League game this century by waving Monopoly banknotes in his direction at every touch — is inevitable and, to a degree, understandable.

Inside the club, there is frustration at how long the saga dragged on, the Irons having made attempts to sign a player adored by Moyes in each of the windows since he scored nine goals and registered four assists in the back half of the 2020-21 season.

But there is also a firm conviction that they were right not to match Forest’s offer, maintaining the wage structure of paramount importance, with several crucial contract negotiations in the pipeline, not least those of Jarrod Bowen and Declan Rice.

Lingard’s spell with the Hammers was magnificent, almost catapulting him into the England squad for last summer’s Euros, but that five-month period stands as an anomaly compared to the last four years.

He may yet prove everyone wrong, but for now it seems a more permanent reunion than the uncomfortable one tomorrow may have been unwise.