Jesse Lingard could find a new home outside of the Premier League after a report revealed the free agent is poised to entertain two ‘ground-breaking’ offers from abroad.
The 29-year-old officially left Manchester United as a free agent on June 30. Lingard had shone during a six-month loan spell with West Ham the season before last. That led to an influx of offers last summer, though United surprisingly stood firm and took Lingard into the final year of his deal.
Neither Ole Gunnar Solskjaer or Ralf Rangnick saw fit to give Lingard regular game-time. As such, a contract extension did not materialise and Lingard is now hunting for a new club.
The Toffees need a replacement for Richarlison who has joined Spurs. West Ham, meanwhile, have reportedly tabled a contract offer.
Yet reports have claimed Lingard is seeking a weekly wage of £150,000-a-week. Even amid West Ham’s rise under David Moyes, that is a lot to pay for a player who will turn 30 in December.
That type of salary won’t be an issue for certain American sides, however.
MLS avenue opens up
ESPN report Lingard is set to travel to the USA to ‘listen to pitches’ from two MLS clubs. The identities of the sides aren’t revealed, though it’s stated the deals they’ll offer will be ‘ground-breaking’.
The MLS operates the ‘designated player’ rule. That allows clubs to sign three players whose wages aren’t factored into the salary cap.
The rule was designed with the intention of allowing clubs to attract high-profile, international stars. As such, Lingard’s reported £150,000-a-week demands won’t be a problem.
From the player’s end, ESPN add Lingard is yet to decide his future. For the time being at least, the MLS route remains an option he’ll seemingly consider.
Swaying his thinking will reportedly be his international ambitions. To break back into England’s squad ahead of the Qatar World Cup, Lingard must play regularly. A move to the MLS would virtually guarantee he does.
Lingard must tread carefully
A move to America would ensure Lingard features regularly. However, the comparatively lesser level of competition he’d face will no doubt be taken into consideration by Gareth Southgate.
Lingard had operated as a central attacking midfielder during the last World Cup. However, with the midfield now bristling with the likes of Kalvin Phillips, Declan Rice and Jude Bellingham, Lingard’s better bet is in the wide areas.
Yet England are blessed with a plethora of established options there too. Raheem Sterling, Jack Grealish, Phil Foden and Bukayo Saka are shoe-ins for Southgate’s squad.
Mason Mount can also play wide if required, while Jadon Sancho, Marcus Rashford and Jarrod Bowen will also be in the mix.