Jesse Lingard failed to make a Premier League appearance for Manchester United in 2020/21 before a January loan move to David Moyes’ West Ham transformed his, and their, season.
A European spot for the Hammers and an England recall for Lingard were the reward for a string of eye-catching displays from the 28-year-old.
As a result, Lingard is hot property again with a host of leading clubs jostling to prise him away from his boyhood club.
Planet Sport looks at the leading contenders for his signature – if he does decide to leave Old Trafford.
His current contract at Manchester United was extended just before Christmas and now runs until the summer of 2022, meaning the Red Devils would require a decent fee for his services, one which rose with every one of his nine goals and five assists at West Ham.
Not that a move away from Old Trafford is by any means as certain as it looked before the turn of the year. Lingard has rejoined United for pre-season and played a part in their 2-1 friendly victory over Wayne Rooney‘s Derby recently.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer confirmed after the match that Lingard is “still in his plans” for this season, saying: “He was one of the positives. He’s a Manchester United player and he wants to fight for his place.
“He’s come back bright, confident and with lots of energy. I think everyone saw what he did at the end of last season with West Ham.
“He’s still in my plans. I expect him at Man Utd at the start of the season.”
It is a view shared by Planet Sport Bet, who have United as firm favourites to retain his services going into the 2021/22 campaign.
It’s safe to say that J Lingz was back to loving life in his loan spell at West Ham and the London club would certainly love to have Lingard at the club on a permanent basis.
Nine goals and five assists speak volumes about how well Lingard performed at the London Stadium, playing some of the best soccer of his career.
This week he revealed he came up with a plan called ‘Jesse 2.0’ in which he set out goals to achieve during his spell at the Hammers.
It included ‘6 goals, 4 assists’, ‘March internationals’ (called up by England in March) and ‘European Championships’. He achieved the first two and was somewhat unlucky not to get the call for the Euros.
A West Ham return and a regular starting berth would certainly boost his England chances and may even see the emergence of ‘Jesse 3.0’ next season.
A move to Leicester looks to hinge on James Maddison’s future.
Maddison is odds on to join Arsenal which would certainly force Leicester’s hand when it comes to creative options.
Brendan Rodgers is a known admirer of Lingard’s and that could open the door for Leicester to move for the Man United man.
Lingard suits Leicester’s favoured formation of three attacking midfielders and would easily adapt to their pressing game.
Furthermore, the Foxes are not afraid to sign players in and around their 30s as was demonstrated with the signing of Ryan Bertrand, an experienced player with over 250 appearances for Southampton, Aston Villa and Chelsea. Bertrand, 31, was tied down to a two-year contract, so a move for Lingard is far from impossible.
Asmir Begovic, along with wingers Andros Townsend and Demarai Gray, have come through the door at Goodison Park and their recruitment drive won’t stop there.
Bernard looks on his way out and the removal of his hefty wages loosens the purse strings for another attacking signing.
Whether Benitez needs another player in the mould of Townsend and Gray is open to debate but the chance to remain in the north-west would certainly appeal to the Manchester-born Lingard.
Having spent all of his playing career in England, the 28-year-old could embark on a new adventure outside of his home country.
Lingard’s fellow Englishman Kieran Trippier currently plies his trade for the team from Madrid, although there are rumours linking the right-back with Lingard’s current team. So could the two players be at the same club next season, and if so, which one?
Simeone’s management vision is extremely particular. Described as a ‘fight until the end approach’, it has very much been in evidence during his 11 years in charge of Atletico.
Concentrating on the defensive side of the game, Simeone can counter critical soccer purists by pointing to the success of his tactics – two La Liga titles, two Europa Leagues and a Champions League final.
In attack, he implements a quick counter-attacking style, which Lingard, who likes to travel at pace with the ball, would be particularly well suited to.
The fee could be a stumbling block, however.