Everton have been linked with a move for Manchester United forward Jesse Lingard as new manager Rafa Benitez looks to add further reinforcements to his first-team squad.
What’s the story?
According to Football Insider, the 28-year-old is a top target for the Toffees as they search for James Rodriguez’s successor, with Benitez a huge fan of his.
The report states that: “Everton have set their sights on a January deal for Man United star Jesse Lingard in January, Football Insider has learned. The Merseysiders will be in the market for an attacking midfielder capable of scoring goals and slotting straight into Rafael Benitez’s side.
“An Everton source has told Football Insider that Lingard is on the club’s target list and Benitez is a big admirer of him.”
The England international’s current contract is set to expire next summer, and he’s reportedly already turned down fresh terms due to concerns over his playing time, meaning an imminent exit could be on the cards.
Would Lingard be a good signing?
Rafa Benitez needs him
Rodriguez’s exit from Goodison Park has left Benitez without a natural creative midfielder who can also score goals on a regular basis, both of which are attributes that Lingard excels in.
After struggling to get back to his best following the 2018 World Cup, a short-term loan move to West Ham United back in January reinvigorated the £19.8m-rated wizard’s career.
In just 16 Premier League appearances for the Hammers, Lingard scored nine goals and provided a further five assists for his teammates, playing a pivotal part as David Moyes’ charges finished in an incredible sixth position.
His eye-catching exploits in east London saw him labelled “outstanding” by Trevor Sinclair after firing the capital club into the Europa League, but that hasn’t translated into regular game time upon his return to Manchester.
Red Devils boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has only awarded the academy graduate one start in all competitions in the opening weeks of the campaign, yet Lingard has still managed to impress with multiple standout cameo appearances off the bench.
He added gloss to the scoreline with a well-taken goal against Newcastle United, sealed all three points with a sumptuous last-minute strike in the victory over West Ham and provided the assist for Cristiano Ronaldo’s injury-time winner against Villarreal.
Therefore, Everton’s director of football, Marcel Brands, must swoop for Lingard in the January window, adding the extra firepower that Benitez needs at his disposal to take the Blues back to Europe.