Carlo Ancelotti has been instructed to build his Everton side around Jesse Lingard, amid reports the Toffees boss wants to sign the £30million-rated Manchester United man this summer.
Lingard, who has been at Old Trafford since the age of six, has 12 months remaining on his £110,000-a-week deal and, although United have the option of extending that by a year, reports claim they feel it’s the right time to cash in.
Having been a key man for club and country, Lingard has managed just two goals in 35 appearances for United this season – one in the FA Cup and one in the Europea League – and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer wants more bang for his buck.
In addition, the Norwegian boss has also had to reprimand Lingard over the midfielder’s inappropriate use of social media.
Referring to a lewd Snapchat video, Solskjaer said at the time: “I am old-school, old-fashioned, quite big on discipline and self-discipline. I can’t spoon-feed these players, they have got to do it themselves.
“I have had many years at this club and I have seen which players have been successful. You have got to be a strong character to play here. It is not like I can tell them to pass from A to B, to C to D. They have to make their own decisions, and in life as well.”
As such, Lingard has been strongly linked with a move to Arsenal, with Mikel Arteta said to be a fan, while Ancelotti is also said to be weighing up the possibility of bringing him to Everton.
Now pundit Darren Bent claims the time is right for Lingard to move and says the “brilliant” winger or midfielder could become an “integral” part of Ancelotti’s line-up.
“I don’t think it’s too late for Jesse, he’s a good player,” Bent told Football Insider.
“I think he did so much in such a compact space of time – he did brilliantly for England, brilliantly for United in the space of about three years – that he set his standards really, really high. Scoring in cup finals, helping England to get to a World Cup semi-final – people then expect that every single week.
“Sometimes you get to a point where you can become stale at a football club, maybe the fans don’t believe in you like they used to, going to get a fresh start might help.”
The signing of Bruno Fernandes in January appears to have pushed Lingard further down the pecking order at Old Trafford, while potential captures for Jack Grealish and Jadon Sancho – who have both been strongly linked – would further limit his opportunities.
And Bent reckons a move to Everton could prove the best solution for all parties, especially with the impressive Ancelotti now at the helm.
“Going to a top club like Everton, with a great manager there, that might just help him ignite it,” Bent added.
“He could be an integral part of what Ancelotti is building.”
The 60-year-old Italian is looking to bolster his squad in the summer and has already been linked with James Rodriguez from Real Madrid.