If you had told us at the turn of the year that the La Liga champions would be interested in signing Jesse Lingard, we would have told you to go home and get an early night.
The wing had long fallen out of favor at Manchester United – he scored his only league goal of the 2019/20 season in the last minute of their last outing in Leicester – before failing to take part in any of the Red Devils’ first 20 league games of the following season.
Jesse Lingard enjoyed a fantastic loan at West Ham / Pool / Getty Images
Never has a player looked more in need of a move away, but without any permanent change from Old Trafford being realized, Lingard was sent out on loan to West Ham.
The transformation in Lingard’s career since moving to East London has been remarkable, with his nine goals in 16 games so many demanding that he be mentioned in Gareth Southgate’s England squad for the 2020 European Championships.
As the Hammers continue to swap a permanent deal for Lingard, 90 minutes recently revealed that Atletico Madrid are keen to strike a deal for the United winger.
A look at the success that Kieran Trippier has had with Atleti – after becoming known as Spanish champion last season – would probably suggest that Lingard should jump at the chance to hook up with Diego Simeone.
But is it quite that simple?
The Atletico boss is known for his ability to bring out 110% of his players and given the work ethic Lingard has shown throughout his career, it is unlikely he will have trouble adapting to Simeone’s style of play.
But the La Liga champions have an abundance of talent in the positions that Lingard would likely compete for, including Angel Correa, Thomas Lemar, Joao Felix, Yannick Carrasco and Marcos Llorente, not to mention Antoine Griezmann’s likely additions in the coming weeks. .
90 ??? ?????????: Atletico Madrid are aiming for the signing of Jesse Lingard this summer from Manchester United! ?
– 90min (@ 90min_Football) July 15, 2021
Given the competition for places, Lingard will have to bid on his time for a chance in the first team and will have to impress when his opportunity comes, and it is not a role he has been happy with throughout his career so far.
Despite the fact that Lingard did not manage to hold down a place in Manchester United’s first team, he got many opportunities from the bench and made 22 Premier League matches during the season where he only managed to score his first league goal with the last kick of the season.
If the English international’s move to West Ham taught us anything, it is that Lingard is not the type of player who can be avoided and is expected to wear out quality performance as a result.
We have lost the number of times we have heard knowledgeable commenters on how he “plays the game with a smile on his face”, and although it is really true, he only has a smile on his face when he is central to his team’s plans and enjoys his football .
Jesse Lingard with Declan Rice / Pool / Getty Images
It seems crazy that Lingard is still only 28 years old, and given the form he showed at London Stadium last season, he looks to have sat up brilliantly to enjoy the best football years of his career that looked like it risked freezing out.
A move to the La Liga champions where he gets the chance to play Champions League football again is a huge carrot to dangle in front of him, but if the move gets sour and he leaves, he kicks the heel on the replacement bench really risks losing the best years of his career.
If Lingard stayed at Manchester United, he would honestly have the chance to watch from the bench when his side plays in the best competitions and he has been given short roles at the end of the matches – we see no one moving to Atletico and offering him anything more.
Moving to West Ham may not be his only option this summer, but wherever he moves he must know that he will be central to the team’s plans, and that is not an assurance that Simeone will be able to give him right now.