Manchester United forward Jesse Lingard appears to be edging ever close to the Old Trafford exit door after being linked with moves to both Barcelona and AC Milan.
The 28-year-old has entered the final years of his current contract with the Red Devils and has reportedly rejected the offer of fresh terms amid concerns over his limited playing time.
And now, according to ESPN reporter Rob Dawson, two European football heavyweights have joined the race for his signature.
Dawson’s report states that: “Barcelona and Milan are among a host of clubs monitoring the situation, and Lingard is open to moving to either Spain or Italy as he plots the next step in his career.
“The opportunity to sign an experienced England international on a free transfer during a time when finances have been restricted because of the coronavirus pandemic has made Lingard an attractive prospect for a number of Europe’s top clubs.”
News that Lingard appears to be attracting interest from huge clubs abroad will surely leave United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer feeling concerned.
The England international struggled following the Three Lions’ run to the World Cup semi-final back in 2018, but a short-term loan move to West Ham United back in January revitalised the versatile attacker’s career.
In just 16 Premier League appearances for the Hammers, Lingard scored nine goals and provided a further five assists for his teammates, playing a pivotal part as David Moyes’ charges finished in an incredible sixth position.
His outstanding performances saw Solskjaer reward him with another opportunity to impress at his boyhood club this season, deciding to sell Dan James to make room for Cristiano Ronaldo instead.
However, Lingard has found opportunities to impress extremely hard to come by in the opening weeks of the campaign, starting just one game and playing only 136 minutes of first-team football throughout 2021/22.
Despite his limited game time, the United academy graduate has still scored two goals and laid on an assist, adding further cause for frustration as he’s forced to watch on from the sidelines.
With Paul Pogba and Juan Mata also out of contract over the summer and Donny van de Beek’s future far from certain, the prospect of losing Lingard as well may be a daunting one for Solskjaer, and the Norwegian tactician could regret the creative talent’s departure.
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