Whisper it quietly, but Jesse Lingard may just prove to be the best transfer of the 2021 winter January transfer window.
The Manchester United academy graduate has hit the ground running at loan club West Ham, smashing three goals in five appearances as the Irons continue their unexpected Champions League push.
After a torrid year and a half, Lingard has taken to his new surroundings in London like a duck to water, and is now an undisputed starter in claret and blue- despite his lack of prior game time this season.
His willingness to run the channels and defend or press enthusiastically, as and when required, has endeared him not only to his teammates but to the wider Hammers fanbase too
With this drastic change in fortunes (following on and off-field issues last year), many have considered the lanky attacking midfielder a bolter to return to Gareth Southgate’s England squad for what may well be a home Euros.
In fact, Lingard’s performances have captured the imagination of not only Southgate but a good many Premier League clubs too – with more than one top flight team said to be interested in the 28-year-old’s services this summer.
Where will in-demand Jesse Lingard land next season?
Naturally, his current team, West Ham, would be the front runners for Lingard’s permanent signature in the summer, should United sell.
The Warrington-born player has quickly struck up a rapport with the likes of Declan Rice and Michail Antonio, with all three executing a now-viral pre-coordinated celebration with Pablo Fornals, following Lingard’s goal against Tottenham.
JLingz, so brilliant to see you happy, smiling and enjoying your footy. Your joy for the game is helping us Hammers. Looking forward to your next celebration. COYI
— Bobby Seagull (UK Libraries Champion @CILIPinfo) (@Bobby_Seagull) February 21, 2021
The faith shown in him by David Moyes, too (who incidentally gave him his Manchester United debut) will surely not be forgotten, given how low the midfielder’s stock had fallen prior to his loan move.
However, with the likes of Leicester City are said to be interested too, it is entirely likely that Lingard may have more than one attractive transfer option on the table.
A move to the Foxes, who look virtually guaranteed of a Champions League berth next year, could see Lingard team up with a number of England teammates, whilst joining one of the most promising young squads in Europe right now.
Leicester have been the more stable club for the past few years, and their more attacking style of play may appeal to the Englishman as he looks to return to the national team fold.
Another possibility is that United may look to keep Lingard following his sudden return to form, and convince him to extend his current contract, which expires in 2022.