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Manchester United: Jesse Lingard needs a fresh start… but which move would suit him best?


From starting out at the Luzhniki Stadium in England’s World Cup semi-final defeat by Croatia to barely getting a look in at Manchester United, Jesse Lingard is in desperate need of a kickstart to his career. 

That summer in Russia represented what many thought would be the start of a purple patch for the Red Devils academy product who had steadily emerged from perennial loanee to guaranteed starter at Old Trafford.

But three appearances in all competitions this season tells a sorry story for the fan favourite and at 28, and entering the prime years of his career, Lingard can ill-afford to waste away on the outskirts of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s squad.

Jesse Lingard is in desperate need of a new start having been left out of the cold at Man United

Jesse Lingard is in desperate need of a new start having been left out of the cold at Man United

‘I can’t really speak for Jesse and what we have spoken about but of course Jesse wants to play football and he is a good player when he plays football at his best so let’s see what will happen,’ Solskjaer said recently. 

With moves to Inter Milan, Tottenham, West Ham, Nice and Sheffield United touted, Sportsmail weighs up the options for the midfielder with the January transfer window closing fast.     

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer says Lingard wants consistent football amid interest from a host of clubs

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer says Lingard wants consistent football amid interest from a host of clubs

Inter Milan

In what would certainly be a left-field switch, Jesse Lingard could make a move from one title challenger to another this month. 

The all-conquering Juventus have been uncharacteristically lacklustre in Serie A this season, opening the door for the silverware-starved Inter and AC Milan to pounce.

Antonio Conte is looking to bolster his ranks to give his side the best possible chance of ending the Old Lady’s dominance and in so doing scupper their plans for a 10th-successive Scudetto. 

Inter boss Antonio Conte has been linked with a surprise loan move for the 28-year-old

Inter boss Antonio Conte has been linked with a surprise loan move for the 28-year-old

Former United duo Romelu Lukaku (L) and Ashley Young have sung Lingard's praises to Conte

Former United duo Romelu Lukaku (L) and Ashley Young have sung Lingard’s praises to Conte

And Lingard has been identified as a possible option for the Nerazzurri, thanks to the recommendations of former United team-mates Ashley Young and Romelu Lukaku. 

Of course, the bright lights of the Italian city and linking up with old friends would seem an appealing prospect for the Englishman.

However, if Lingard is looking for consistent game time he may be hard pressed to find that at the San Siro. Conte has a settled midfield in Marcelo Brozovic, Arturo Vidal and Nicolo Barella, and Lingard may find it tricky to dislodge that central trio.  

Arturo Vidal has been relied upon by Conte

Marcelo Brozovic has featured regularly for the Serie A challengers

However, he may struggle for consistent minutes ahead of Inter’s preferred central midfielders

Tottenham Hotspur

Spurs have expressed an interest in taking Lingard off Manchester United’s hands too. 

Jose Mourinho is attempting to transform the north London club from plucky runners-up to menacing champions, and the Portuguese is known to rely on trusted lieutenants to get the job done.  

There can be no denying that Lingard is one such player that Mourinho has called upon in the past. Having worked together at United, the 57-year-old played Lingard in 107 of his 144 games in charge.

Spurs have also been linked with a swoop for the former England international this month

Spurs have also been linked with a swoop for the former England international this month

Lingard was a trusted lieutenant of Jose Mourinho when he was in charge at Man United

Lingard was a trusted lieutenant of Jose Mourinho when he was in charge at Man United

Moreover, that consistent game time also gave rise to Lingard’s best football to date. The 28-year-old bagged 20 goals and 11 assists in those games under Mourinho, forcing his way into Gareth Southgate’s first XI for that World Cup campaign.

Again, there may be doubts about Lingard’s potential playing time for Spurs, given the plethora of options at Mourinho’s disposal.

He is unlikely to shuffle his pack and has no qualms in leaving big name players on the outskirts, with Gareth Bale, Dele Alli and Harry Winks being handed limited minutes this season. 

But Mourinho’s track record in using the Englishman would understandably give him confidence in forcing a way into the Portuguese’s plans.  

Lingard would face stiff competition to force his way into Mourinho's starting eleven, though

Lingard would face stiff competition to force his way into Mourinho’s starting eleven, though

West Ham United

There is surely no better time to be joining West Ham than right now. 

David Moyes has overseen a complete transformation in the east London club’s fortunes this season, taking the Hammers from relegations strugglers to top six challengers in the space of a few short months. 

That success can be attributed to Moyes’ ability to squeeze the most out of his stars. Jarrod Bowen has become one of the most electric players in the top flight, Tomas Soucek has settled in immediately while Declan Rice has come on leaps and bounds.

West Ham are flying and have been transformed from relegation candidates to top six hopefuls

West Ham are flying and have been transformed from relegation candidates to top six hopefuls

Lingard has promised so much but has not yet reached those heights, perhaps Moyes can be the manager to unleash the 28-year-old’s potential. 

The Scot will be attracted to Lingard’s versatility in playing across the positions just behind the striker, with the prospect of inter-changing with Bowen and Manuel Lanzini a tantalising thought.

While at United, Moyes did not play Lingard, instead sending the then-youngster out on loan but he will have kept a keen eye on the Englishman’s career from afar, and would no doubt use the United outcast on a regular basis.  

David Moyes squeezes the most out of his players and could do the same for Lingard

David Moyes squeezes the most out of his players and could do the same for Lingard

OGC Nice

The French outfit had been heavily linked with a move for the United outcast from the outset of the window, although any move has yet to materialise. 

Lingard’s representatives reportedly held talks with chiefs from the Ligue 1 side over a loan move. However, club president Jean-Pierre Rivere has since said ‘you shouldn’t expect big names’ in a blow to a switch this month. 

Ligue 1 strugglers Nice had been linked with a surprise move for the United outcast

Ligue 1 strugglers Nice had been linked with a surprise move for the United outcast 

Nice have had somewhat of a tumultuous campaign, with mass fan unrest leading to the sacking of Arsenal legend Patrick Vieira before Christmas. 

The club, owned by INEOS chairman Jim Ratcliffe, have big ambitions, but sit in 14th place in the league with Adrian Ursea tasked with turning things around. 

They have struggled for goals this season and Lingard would no doubt inject much-needed creativity into Ursea’s attack. But given Rivere’s comments over ‘big names’, it would come as a shock to see the Englishman move to France this month.  

However, president Jean-Pierre Rivere says not to expect 'big names' this transfer window

However, president Jean-Pierre Rivere says not to expect ‘big names’ this transfer window

Sheffield United

Lingard could go from the top of the table to rock bottom before this month’s window comes to a close, with Chris Wilder’s strugglers reportedly interested in the midfielder.

The Blades have just the solitary win this season and have already been written off as certainties to go down, with Roy Keane and Graeme Souness lambasting Wilder’s side amid their 3-1 defeat by Spurs last weekend. 

There can be no question of where the problem lies with last season’s high-flyers – attack. 

Sheffield United are plummeting their way to the Championship amid a horrendous season

Sheffield United are plummeting their way to the Championship amid a horrendous season

Chris Wilder's side have struggled for goals and desperately need a creative spark

Chris Wilder’s side have struggled for goals and desperately need a creative spark

Ten goals in 19 games is a desperate return for a side that mystified a host of rivals last campaign with their unique style. 

And while Lingard won’t necessarily bag the dozen goals that Wilder needs from a striker, he has the capacity to unpick defences with his intricate dribbling and passing. 

The 28-year-old’s enthusiasm and attitude would likely lift spirits in a dressing room devoid of confidence, but to throw a footballer into the deep end having barely played any football would be a big challenge.  

Lingard could lift spirits in the dressing room but would face a tough task at Bramall Lane

Lingard could lift spirits in the dressing room but would face a tough task at Bramall Lane

WEST BROM

Lingard has emerged as a target for West Brom with Sam Allardyce keen to take him on loan.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is yet to make a decision about his future as he knows he may need to rely on him if United progress deep into cup competitions. 

However, West Brom have informed United about their interest and are one of the more concrete suitors for him.

The Premier League new boys are in a relegation fight, which would give Lingard an objective to aim for and could be the perfect situation for him to rediscover his form.

Ruben Loftus-Cheek is an example of when a loan spell at a team fighting relegation can bring the best out of a player with the Chelsea loanee showing impressive form at Fulham in recent weeks.

Lingard would bring a lot of creativity to West Brom’s attack and would be a leading figure in the team – a role that he would likely relish.

The England international has a number of other offers on the table though and it is not clear if West Brom would be one of his first choices.

West Brom's relegation fight could bring the best out of Lingard if he joined them on loan

West Brom’s relegation fight could bring the best out of Lingard if he joined them on loan

NEWCASTLE

Newcastle are also exploring the possibility of bringing in the United midfielder on a long deal until the end of the season.

Steve Bruce’s men have been struggling in recent weeks and are looking to add fresh faces to their squad in a bid to arrest their slump in form.

Newcastle are in need of bolstering their offensive ranks and could offer Lingard an attractive role in attacking midfield.

Although there are several clubs linked with a move for Lingard, Sportsmail understands Newcastle, West Brom and Sheffield United are the serious contenders as things stand.

The Magpies arguably have a bigger reputation than West Brom and Sheffield United, which could give them an edge in the battle to sign Lingard. 

Steve Bruce wants to bring in Lingard to spice up his misfiring attacking force at Newcastle

Steve Bruce wants to bring in Lingard to spice up his misfiring attacking force at Newcastle

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