Darren Fletcher is set to leave Manchester United and sign for West Ham United on a three-and-a-half year deal.
The 30-year-old Scotland international is understood to be close to agreeing his release from the final six months of his contract at United – negotiations are ongoing.
They are the only club he has ever played for, after joining their youth academy.
West Ham are cautiously optimistic that Fletcher will now sign for them even if they still rate the chances of it happening at only “50/50”.
However, given the length of the contract on offer it is unlikely that any other club, such as West Bromwich Albion, who are also interested and held preliminary discussions, will be able to offer the same terms.
The Spanish club Valencia have also expressed an interest in Fletcher, who is due a testimonial at United after completing more than a decade of service with the club. That may form part of his severance negotiations.
It had been expected that United would demand a fee of around £1.5 million for Fletcher, but he may be able to leave for less than that or even on a free transfer given his service to the club. He has made 342 appearances for them since making his debut in 2003.
Fletcher has made 16 appearances this season but only four starts under manager Louis van Gaal – and was an unused substitute during the goalless FA Cup fourth-round tie away to League Two Cambridge United on Friday evening – and was recently replaced as vice-captain by Michael Carrick.
It would appear that Fletcher, who has barely featured in recent months and has not played since the FA Cup third-round match away to Yeovil Town, does not have a future at the club beyond this season, should he decide to stay.
The midfielder has successfully fought a recurring ulcerative colitis condition twice during his career with United, where he is a highly-respected and influential figure in the dressing room.
There had been suggestions that West Ham wanted to take Fletcher on loan with an option for a permanent contract after that, but manager Sam Allardyce wants it to be a long-term deal and this is likely to influence the player’s decision.
West Ham have created space on their wage bill of £56 million a year by releasing the striker Ricardo Vaz Te, and may allow other fringe players to leave on loan before the end of this month.
Louis van Gaal gave credit to Cambridge United after their FA Cup fourth-round draw at the Abbey Stadium but complained about the referee, the pitch and admitted he was “angry” about Manchester United’s listless first-half display in particular.