West Ham United had been heavily linked with a move for former Manchester United midfielder Jesse Lingard over the summer, with the Englishman seemingly in line for a return to the London Stadium following his previous, impressive loan stint with the Hammers during the 2020/21 campaign.
The 29-year-old – who had come on the market as a free agent after securing an exit from Old Trafford at the end of last season – had netted nine goals and provided four assists in just 16 games for the east Londoners during that stunning temporary spell, with a reunion with David Moyes and co having appeared a wise choice for all parties.
As it proved, however, the 32-cap gem – who had been tipped to return to the Irons on a permanent deal last summer – ultimately snubbed that switch in favour of a move to newly-promoted Nottingham Forest, joining Steve Cooper’s side on a one-year deal.
That had appeared something of a blow for the Irons such was the player’s impact at the club two seasons ago, although on recent evidence GSB may well have dodged a howler with regards to that failed approach, with Lingard having underwhelmed in his new surroundings thus far.
The £200k-per-week playmaker was one of 22 major deals completed by the City Ground outfit in the recent window, although like most he has failed to make his mark in recent months, with the Midlands side currently languishing at the foot of the table with just four points from their opening eight league games.
The £16.2m-rated dud has certainly been culpable for that dismal start to life back in the Premier League for the Garibaldi, having failed to score or register an assist so far from his seven appearances, while also failing to create a single big chance from his creative starting berth.
His struggles were laid bare in the recent 4-0 defeat to fellow strugglers Leicester City on Monday evening as the Warrington-born menace made just 23 touches in his 69-minute outing, failing to record a single successful dribble and contributing zero key passes to underline his lack of impact.
To make matters worse, the former Hammers loanee was also at fault in the build-up to the Foxes’ opener, producing a “horrendous clearance attempt” – in the words of journalist Dom Smith – prior to James Maddison’s deflected strike.
That performance – which has seen Cooper tipped for a departure as a result – led to journalist Dom Gourlay to dub Lingard, as well as a handful of other new additions, as simply “disinterested”, with it already looking like a potential mistake for both the club and player.
It remains to be seen just why the player would opt to snub the chance of European football at West Ham for life at a newly-promoted outfit, with Sky Sports pundit Jamie Carragher suggesting that he had only done so “for the money”.
In truth, Moyes and co won’t be losing any sleep over their inability to get the Red Devils academy graduate through the door this summer, with it something of a blessing in disguise that he opted for Forest instead.