West Ham refuse to give up on appointing former Real Madrid manager to replace David Moyes

WEST HAM are not giving up on persuading Julen Lopetegui to take over at the London Stadium should David Moyes depart.

The former Wolves and Real Madrid boss, 57, had informed the Hammers over the weekend that his preference was to take over at AC Milan next season after being offered a deal by the Italian giants.

Ex-Real Madrid boss Julen Lopetegui is West Ham’s top managerial candidatePA

West Ham manager David Moyes’ contract runs out in the summerGetty

However, Milan supporters have reacted poorly to the prospect of the Spaniard taking over at San Siro and other options – including Lille manager Paulo Fonseca – are being explored by the club.

West Ham have met with Lopetegui a number of times and he remains their preferred candidate should, as expected, Moyes leave when his contract is up at the end of the season.

From proactively evaluating candidates, West Ham are now left playing a waiting game over Lopetegui while everything else is up in the air.

No final decision has been made on the Scot’s future by the Hammers board, with chairman David Sullivan waiting until after the final Premier League game against Manchester City to hold talks with the ex-Manchester United and Everton boss.

West Ham also held face-to-face talks with Sporting Lisbon manager Ruben Amorim, though the 39-year-old held a press conference over the weekend to apologise to the club and supporters.

Both Fonseca and former Germany manager Hansi Flick have been proposed to the club but neither suggestion was received enthusiastically.

It leaves Sullivan, Moyes and the rest of the club in a near identical situation to that of the end of his first spell six years ago.

Moyes saved the club from relegation, started to plan for the future but was then informed after the final game against Everton that Manuel Pellegrini would be taking over.

Supporters and the club wanted more, they wanted stardust, but Pellegrini did not deliver and Moyes returned, going on to record two top-seven finishes, a Europa League semi-final and the club’s first trophy for 43 years.

The difference this time around is that, after all that success, things appear to have grown tired.

The fanbase have been split over Moyes’ style, the manager has concerns about the structure of the club above him and has said that if he were to stay “things would need to be right between me and the club”.

West Ham’s hopes of progressing in the Europa League and qualifying for a fourth straight year in Europe have collapsed in recent weeks.

Given no decision has been made on Moyes’ future, there is a chance a strong end to the campaign could save him.

But end-of-season wins over Chelsea and City should not dictate whether he is the right man or not.

It all means the club are going into a crucial summer – during which the squad needs major work and technical director Tim Steidten is planning around eight new signings – unsure of what direction they will take.

The lack of clarity is neither fair on the club’s most successful manager for decades nor is it healthy for those who will be left behind should Moyes go.

West Ham’s aim with making a change is to progress as a club – should the managerial search continue like this it will only damage that ambition.

Stuttgart manager Sebastian Hoeness, who recently renewed his contract with the German club, is not a candidate.

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