Having only staved off the drop in the final week of the 2021/22 campaign, Everton are now plotting to try and avoid a similar story next term, with the opening up of the transfer window offering the chance for manager Frank Lampard to drastically alter his squad.
The past few days has already seen the confirmation that a handful of players will be heading for the exit door, following the expiry of their contracts, although at present there has been relative inaction with regards to incomings, albeit with soon-to-be free agent James Tarkowski one name that been heavily linked with a move to Goodison Park.
Another figure who has also recently cropped up onto the radar is Manchester United‘s Jesse Lingard, with the Englishman also set to be available on a free this summer, with the Red Devils having recently confirmed his impending departure from Old Trafford.
The 29-year-old endured a torrid campaign back at his parent club having previously impressed on loan at West Ham United during the 2020/21 season, making just two Premier League starts under both Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Ralf Rangnick combined in what proved to be another wasted year in Manchester.
After reinvigorating his career with the Hammers – where he provided nine goals and four assists in just 16 games – the decision not to leave the Theatre of Dreams on a permanent deal last summer has backfired, with the United youth product now once again out of the England reckoning in what is a pivotal, World Cup year.
A host of clubs – such as the Toffees – are likely to be battling it out for his signature in the coming months, with all hoping he can replicate the form he showed both at the London Stadium and in previous years with United.
However, amid talk that he could be demanding as much as £180k-per-week – having reportedly been on £80k-per-week at United – it begs the question as to whether it is wise for Lampard and co to pursue the deal, particularly for a player who has only once reached 20 top-flight starts in his career – that coming in the 2017/18 season.
Any deal would also seemingly mirror the decision to bring in Dele Alli back in January, with the 26-year-old joining on an initial free transfer deal from Tottenham Hotspur – albeit with the fee potentially set to reach as much as £30m based on a number of performance-related factors.
Just six months into his stint, there has already been suggestion that the one-time MK Dons man could be moved on this summer, having failed to make any sort of mark thus far, earning just one league start for the Merseyside outfit in the 2021/22 campaign.
Once dubbed “one of the best in Europe” by former Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino, the former prodigy has endured a real career nosedive in recent seasons, with a return to the international fold under Gareth Southgate now seemingly a long shot.
Do Everton and Lampard really want to be saddled with another player on the decline in Lingard?
Yes he was once labelled a “nightmare” by Ryan Giggs for his exciting talent, yet he has only managed to show flickers of his quality in the past four years or so, with the Toffees simply unable to afford another expensive mistake.
Owner Farhad Moshiri has already pointed out that the club have spent unwisely in recent years, yet they must learn from previous mistakes and not pay over the odds – this time in wages – for a player who has rarely ever produced the goods consistently.
The club – and Lampard – can be forgiven for thinking they could resurrect Alli’s career, yet they will have nowhere left to turn if they repeat their error with Lingard.