Aston Villa must finally land Manchester United and England star Jesse Lingard amid his recent comments.
Reports in recent weeks and months had suggested that Dean Smith’s side were ready to rival fellow West Ham in a move for the 28-year-old.
The Times then delivered an update on Lingard’s situation, name-checking Villa as one of the teams who have registered their interest in luring Lingard away from Old Trafford, and that the attacking midfielder had turned down a contract offer from Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side.
And now, Lingard has admitted that regular first-team football is what he is interested in as he looks to force himself into Gareth Southgate’s England squad for next year’s World Cup.
He said: “Obviously, the World Cup is a long way away but… you need regular football. I was so close to going to the Euros and I think obviously it plays a huge part and it’s a big factor. If you’re playing over 20 or 25 games, of course you know you’re knocking on the door so I think it does play a big part in that.
“You want to start games. When I’m a sub I’m always ready to play. I’m always ready to be needed when I’m called up. It’s one of those things I’m going through at the moment but I think on recent performances hopefully we’ll see a change in the next few weeks.”
After joining West Ham back in the January transfer window on a short-term loan, Lingard racked up an incredible nine goals and four assists in just his first ten Premier League games for the club – it was no surprise then that he was lauded as being “absolutely phenomenal“.
His ability to score goals from midfield is exactly what Villa could do with going forward, with John McGinn their top scorer last season from a central area with just three.
What marks Lingard out as a real threat is his timing of his runs, and it’s something Michael Carrick has previously raved about.
The United coach said: “He senses where the space is and how to use it. I wouldn’t necessarily say he’s a dribbler with skills and tricks but he’s dynamic. How he plays, he is unique in some ways. You don’t see so much of that now as everyone wants to get on the ball. Off the ball, he’s very effective.”
His performances with the Hammers showcased the kind of impact the £75k-a-week earning star can have when he’s on song and the confidence is flowing through his veins.
If he isn’t getting enough first-team football at United, then Smith and Villa must absolutely be all over a move for him in the January transfer window.
It would seal a dream midfield for the Villa boss.