Manchester City may renew Paquetá interest if betting case is dropped

<span><a class="link " href="" data-i13n="sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link" data-ylk="slk:Lucas Paquetá;sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link;itc:0">Lucas Paquetá</a> (left), pictured during Thursday’s defeat by <a class="link " href="" data-i13n="sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link" data-ylk="slk:Bayer Leverkusen;sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link;itc:0">Bayer Leverkusen</a>, is understood to have an £85m release clause that becomes active in June.</span><span>Photograph: Anadolu/Getty Images</span>

Manchester City are likely to capitalise on Lucas Paquetá’s desire to leave West Ham this summer, as long as the Football Association’s investigation into alleged betting breaches by the midfielder has been dropped before the transfer window shuts.

Paquetá, whose contract is understood to contain an £85m release clause that becomes active in June, is keen to find a fresh challenge after two seasons at the London Stadium. The Brazil international was on the brink of joining City last summer, only for the FA’s inquest into suspicious betting activity to derail the transfer, and Pep Guardiola has not dropped his interest in the playmaker.

The FA has remained silent about the timeframe of the investigation, despite repeated suggestions that a resolution is on the way. Paquetá denies wrongdoing and was said to be shocked by the allegations, which relate to bookings that he has received. He gave investigators access to his phone last October.

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City could have openings in midfield, with doubts over the futures of Kevin De Bruyne and Bernardo Silva. De Bruyne has been linked to the Saudi Pro League and Silva has been targeted by Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain in recent years. City could need to rejuvenate their squad and West Ham would find it difficult to deny Paquetá a chance to play for Guardiola.

Paquetá has played in a variety of roles since joining West Ham for £51m from Lyon. David Moyes has mainly deployed him as a No 10 or on the left flank, but the 26-year-old is capable of playing in a deeper midfield role. He returned to the Brazil squad last month andhis creativity shone brightly during the victory over England at Wembley.

West Ham play a cautious style under Moyes and Paquetá cut a frustrated figure during the 2-0 defeat at Bayer Leverkusen in the first leg of their Europa League quarter-final on Thursday. He was booked for a petulant foul after he lost possession during the early stages and is suspended for next week’s second leg. West Ham, who also lost Emerson Palmieri to a one-game ban, managed one shot to Leverkusen’s 33 and have been heavily reliant on Paquetá’s invention this season.

The club stand to make a big profit on Paquetá if the FA drops its investigation. A big sale would allow West Ham to renovate their squad after their lack of depth was exposed against Leverkusen. Edson Álvarez was suspended and Jarrod Bowen was missing with a back injury. Bowen will not be fit for Sunday’s home game against Fulham and could missing the return against Leverkusen.

It could be a summer of change at West Ham, who are yet to make a decision on whether to renew Moyes’s deal. The Scot is out of contract at the end of the season and there have been calls to replace him with a more attacking manager.

West Ham are seventh in the Premier League and are pushing for a fourth season of European football. But a lack of January transfer activity, combined with the departures of Saïd Benrahma, Pablo Fornals and Thilo Kehrer, means Moyes has been short of replacements for injured players.