Manchester United winger Jesse Lingard is apparently piquing the interest of Barcelona as his contract at Old Trafford ticks down. Lingard’s current United deal expires next summer and he has been reluctant to sign a new one.
According to ESPN, AC Milan are also interested in Lingard as rival clubs look to target out of contract players to avoid paying transfer fees in light of the financial woes caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Man Utd want Lingard to stay at Old Trafford, but the 28-year-old wants assurances over his game-time.
The player has only started one match this season and is keen to play as much football as possible to secure a place in Gareth Southgate’s World Cup 2022 squad.
If Lingard refuses to put pen to paper, United will be left with a difficult decision to make.
They will either need to resign themselves to losing a valuable asset for nothing, or cash in during January.
Overseas clubs can start talking to Lingard from the turn of next year so, if Man Utd would prefer the second option, they will need to persuade the pacy forward to move on.
Newcastle United will likely look to mark the beginning of a new era in the north east with a string of exciting signings in January when the transfer window opens once again.
And they would no doubt jump at the chance to land a current England international, one who has performed strongly throughout 2021.
Lingard missed out on a place at Euro 2020 in the summer despite his fine form at West Ham from January onwards, but has returned to the Three Lions fold for their recent World Cup qualifying games.
He struck two goals and contributed an assist in last month’s 4-0 win over Andorra, before starting last week’s 5-0 victory against the same opponents.
Lingard has 32 caps for England and has produced a number of standout performances for his country. He is looking to book a spot in the World Cup squad for Qatar 2022 in 12 months' time.
Newcastle are meanwhile currently second bottom of the Premier League table after failing to win any of their opening seven games.
But the tide could be about to turn after they became the richest club in the world last week following their takeover by a Saudi-backed consortium.
The Magpies have already been linked with a plethora of players and could get their chequebook out sooner rather than later in their quest to eventually compete with Europe’s elite.
Man Utd could expect to receive around £15million if Lingard were to join Newcastle in January and could easily cope with his departure due to their abundance of attacking talent.
A move to the north east would give Lingard plenty of opportunities to stake his claim for a World Cup place.
But he would also have to ask himself whether a move to Newcastle would be worth turning his back on the opportunity to play for giants Barcelona. From a United perspective though, selling him to Newcastle makes plenty of sense.