Manchester United have finally agreed to allow Jesse Lingard to leave the club during this winter transfer window, with West Ham United looking the most likely destination.
Lingard has made just three appearances in all competitions for the Old Trafford club this season, and played for just 80 minutes since September, with each appearance coming in domestic cup competitions.
He was expected to leave last summer, but after discussions with manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer he stuck around believing that he would get more game time as a squad option than he has.
It means that he has become unhappy at the club where he came through as an academy graduate and has asked to leave, with regular game time needed at 28 years of age.
Manchester United were initially wary of loaning him out this winter, with the club aware of how hectic the fixture schedule is in the coming months. However the arrival of Amad Diallo has seen those fears eased, as the young Ivorian winger has impressed in training and has gone straight into the first-team picture.
This means Lingard has finally been given the green light to leave the club on a temporary basis, with West Ham leading the chase for his signature.
Hammers boss David Moyes managed Manchester United back in 2013/14, when Lingard was on the cusp of breaking through into the first-team. It’s said that he liked Lingard’s character and that his hard-working style will fit in with what he wants at the London Stadium.
West Ham are currently short in attack after letting Sebastian Haller join Ajax earlier this month, and their hunt for a back up striker has hit a snag with their prime targets being priced out of a move.
It’s possible that Moyes will use him as a winger in order to use Andriy Yarmolenko as a back-up striker to Michail Antonio, while Pablo Fornals has seen his form dip after an initial good start to the season.
With Jarred Bowen, Manuel Lanzini and Said Benrahma also among attacking options, as well as young Nigerian striker Mipo Odubeko coming through from the academy, Lingard will have competition for his place which is a positive for him.
They are competing well right now in the league, with their points total just seven points off the entirety they managed last season.
West Bromwich Albion are also interested in the signing of Lingard, and the fact West Ham already have two loanees in their squad could prove problematic. Said Benrahma is due to join permanently in the summer anyway, but they may need to make that happen now in order to get the player in.
Lingard’s hunger to get back playing will be seen as a positive and United will be hopeful that he will be able to help West Ham take points off their rivals during the remainder of the season.
Despite being evidently not good enough, United fans will be sad to see that is hasn’t quite worked out for Jesse at Old Trafford. Watching an academy graduate perform in the first team is every fan’s dream and his passion and love for the club has never been in doubt. He is popular among the first team in the dressing room and the coaching staff haven’t got a bad word to say about him.
His ability on the ball doesn’t match all of that though and the decision to let him leave is probably the right one.