Four West Ham United players look set to wave goodbye to fans during the lap of honour after Sunday’s season finale against Southampton.
West Ham go into tomorrow’s game against the Saints knowing a point will be enough to secure their best ever Premier League points total and Europa League football.
The Hammers beat West Brom 3-1 on Wednesday night to leapfrog rivals Tottenham into sixth place.
Spurs face Leicester away on the last day while West Ham welcome a Southampton side that lost 2-0 to Leeds in midweek.
Hammers one point from best Prem season and Europa League
West Ham may not even need a point. If Spurs do not beat Leicester, David Moyes’s side are guaranteed sixth spot barring an Everton victory at Man City and a nine-goal swing in the process.
With the Hammers set to welcome 10,000 fans back to the London Stadium there should be plenty of appreciation and celebration during the traditional lap of honour after the match.
And for a quartet of West Ham first teamers it looks set to be a wave goodbye.
Fourth-choice goalkeeper and boyhood Hammer David Martin has not been offered a new contract and looks set to leave.
Although his positive influence – he has been seen attending games and cheering the team on even when not in the matchday squad – and passion for all things West Ham means there may yet be a role for him somewhere around the club.
Martin and Balbuena set to say goodbye as contracts come to an end?
Martin’s man of the match performance in the win over Chelsea at Stamford Bridge – and the emotional scenes crying with and hugging his Hammers legend dad Alvin afterwards – will live long in the memory.
Defender Fabian Balbuena is another who may well be waving goodbye.
The 29-year-old is out of contract this summer. And as things stand, it seems as though Balbuena may well be on his way out of the club.
He has already been linked with a move to Lazio (Corriere dello Sport (Print edition, Wednesday April 14th) and a return to Brazil (Renato Bittar via Versus Radio).
And earlier this month South American football journalist Jorge Nicola claimed Balbuena’s agent told him a move to another Premier League club is also a possibility for the centre-back.
Does Moyes already have Balbuena replacements?
Moyes signed Danish defender Frederik Ibsen Alves in January with a view to eventually replacing Balbuena. And the Scot also has emerging talents Aji Alese and Jamal Baptiste coming through.
But he could yet offer Balbuena an extension if West Ham make Europe.
West Ham’s highest earner Andriy Yarmolenko could also be waving goodbye to fans on Sunday.
The Ukraine star has endured an injury-hit three years with West Ham. The 31-year-old still has a year left on his £115k per week deal.
But as reported for the best part of a year, West Ham are desperately trying to offload him for whatever they can recoup.
Yarmo has barely featured under Moyes. He is very much a symbol of West Ham’s scattergun approach to transfers in the past.
Indeed his situation at the club was summed up by the fact Moyes wanted to use him as a time-wasting substitute in stoppage time when 3-1 up against West Brom in midweek only for the final whistle to go before he could get on.
But Yarmolenko will be fondly remembered for that last gasp winner in the thrilling 3-2 victory over Chelsea which helped keep West Ham up after lockdown last season.
Long linked with moves away under Moyes’s new West Ham, Yarmolenko and Lanzini set for pastures new?
The next player who could be bidding West Ham fans a farewell is Manuel Lanzini.
The Argentine is another on big wages who barely plays and continues to pick up injuries.
Once West Ham’s little jewel, Lanzini has shown some of his old sparkle in flashes this season. That goal of the season contender in the 3-3 comeback draw at Spurs will live on forever in West Ham folklore.
Lanzini’s performance in a deeper midfield role at Burnley recently caught the eye too. Indeed many believed it may be a turning point in his West Ham career as back-up to Declan Rice and Tomas Soucek in that role.
Indeed it may well be. But another injury early on in the next game against Everton ruled Lanzini out for the remainder of the season.
And an exasperated Moyes has since admitted he simply has to sign more robust players, suggesting Lanzini could move on (West Ham TV). The 28-year-old’s old club River Plate have been linked with a move.
One player West Ham fans are hoping they won’t be waving goodbye to during the lap of honour is Jesse Lingard.
Moyes is desperate to keep the loan sensation and raised hopes in his pre-match press conference on Friday (Evening Standard).