Jesse Lingard’s future at Manchester United looks increasingly uncertain, amid reports the midfielder is set to leave the club when his contract expires at the end of the season.
The England international returned to the Red Devils after reviving his career on loan at West Ham last season, but has found opportunities limited despite impressing in a handful of brief cameos.
The 28-year-old has scored in league wins against West Ham and Newcastle so far this season, yet has been restricted to just one start and has played more minutes for England than he has at club level.
With less than a year remaining on his existing deal, the likelihood is that he will move on at the end of the campaign, after reportedly rejecting a contract offer from the Red Devils.
So for those of you who like to follow the latest odds on the best betting sites like https://www.smartbets.com/se/fotboll/, here is how the bookmakers view the race to sign Jesse Lingard.
Barcelona – 8/1
A recent report suggested that Barcelona – as well as AC Milan – are at the ‘front of the queue’ to sign Lingard in the near future, with the player able to sign a pre-contract agreement with foreign sides from January.
While it would be a remarkable move for a player who had been out in the footballing wilderness less than a year ago, the deal would make sense for the cash-strapped La Liga side, who are in need of cost-efficient reinforcements amid their current financial crisis.
With the club facing spiralling debt, the focus has been on free transfers and loan signings with their summer business including the Bosman arrivals of Eric Garcia, Sergio Aguero and Memphis Depay.
The departure of Lionel Messi to Paris Saint-Germain has left a gaping hole in the squad, however, with Ronald Koeman’s side suffering a poor start to the new season with two defeats from two in the Champions League and a less than impressive start to the league campaign.
Lingard would not be the man to solve all their problems, but would provide Koeman – should he remain in charge – with a great deal of versatility in attacking areas.
Newcastle United – 6/1
It’s difficult to find a player who hasn’t been linked with a move to Newcastle over the past week or so, with a whole host of names rumoured to be heading to St James’ Park following the club’s recent high-profile takeover.
With the new Saudi-led investors looking set to pump plenty of cash into the club as soon as possible, there could well be a January spending spree and some notable arrivals on Tyneside in the near future.
The project on offer would no doubt be an appealing one for prospective signings, with the chance to play a key role in driving the newly-ambitious club forward and help transform the relegation strugglers into title contenders.
Staying in the Premier League may also appeal to Lingard, though there are a number of variables in play with the future of Steve Bruce still undecided, while it will also no doubt take time for the club to become major contenders for silverware.
With potential offers from clubs already competing in the Champions League, Lingard – who turns 29 in December – may not have the time to wait around for the Magpies to get up to a similar level.
AC Milan – 6/1
As previously mentioned, AC Milan are believed to be one of the frontrunners in the race for the United man, with the Italian side having already dipped into the English market to prize Fikayo Tomori from Chelsea.
The centre-back’s fine start to life in the San Siro could sway his England teammate into making the move abroad, with fellow international colleague Tammy Abraham having also hit the ground running under Jose Mourinho at Roma, after leaving Chelsea in the summer.
Having been a sleeping giant for much of the last decade, Milan have awoken in the last year or so, finishing second last season under Stefano Pioli to qualify for the Champions League for the first time since 2014.
One of the major catalysts in their return to form has been the performances of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, with the 40-year-old Swedish striker having scored 29 goals in just 48 games for the club since the start of his second spell in December 2019.
The enigmatic veteran played alongside Lingard during his brief stint at Old Trafford and may be able to tempt his former teammate into joining the Rossoneri, with the midfielder believed to be open to taking on a new adventure abroad.
West Ham United – 9/2
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the favourites to sign the attacking midfielder are West Ham, with the club having given him a new lease of life after his hugely successful six-month loan spell at the London Stadium last season.
Lingard had arrived at the Hammers off the back of a difficult 18-month period on and off the pitch, yet reignited his career after making the temporary switch in January, having failed to make a Premier League appearance across the first-half of the season.
Despite that lack of game time, he took no time to settle into his new surroundings, bagging a brace on debut in a 3-1 win over Aston Villa in a display that set the tone for what would be a remarkable end to the season.
Lingard ended the campaign with nine goals and four assists in just 16 league appearances for West Ham, helping the club secure a sixth-place finish and earning a recall to the international set-up – narrowly missing out on Gareth Southgate’s squad for Euro 2020.
There had been speculation over the summer that he would return to east London on a permanent deal, and a return remains the most likely destination for Lingard who has since spoken of the role West Ham played in his renaissance last season.