Oh boy NOW we’re getting into the good stuff! According to Alasdair Gold in Football.London (as well as the Athletic’s transfer tracker), Tottenham Hotspur has reportedly made contact with the representatives of Manchester United striker Jesse Lingard over a possible free transfer to north London this coming summer. Lingard’s United contract expires in June.
The joke goes that a young, up-and-coming English striker like Lingard is exactly what Spurs need as a Harry Kane backup. And since I should probably explain this joke (thereby making it extremely not funny), Lingard is 29 but was incredibly hyped as a youngster coming out of United’s academy and has basically made a living off of being the next great young England talent. It’s never quite paid off for him at United, and in recent seasons he’s been unhappy with his playing time.
Lingard went out on loan to West Ham in the spring of last season during COVID and did quite well there, tallying nine goals and four assists with an xG+Xa/90 of 0.48 in just 16 matches. Those are eye-popping numbers, but it’s also worth mentioning that it represents a pretty substantial overperformance of his expected stats; he’s never come close to that at any other point in his career.
That said, if Spurs aren’t able to land someone like Dusan Vlahovic (who is reportedly asking for wages of £300k/wk plus a £15m agent fee in addition to Fiorentina’s transfer fee), I actually wouldn’t necessarily hate this idea. Lingard isn’t great, but he’s also not awful. He’s an experienced Premier League player who we know can come in and do a job if he’s asked to be Kane’s primary backup for a season or two. Is it my first choice? Abso-friggin-lutely not. But there are worse situations to be in than having Lingard as a Kane backup, starting with not having ANY Kane backup. That’s pretty thin gruel, but it’s where we are currently and Vlahovic probably isn’t coming through the door.
The big question is whether this would be an okay idea for Jesse Lingard. He was promised more minutes under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, something that didn’t really happen, and it sure looks like he’s on the fringes under Ralf Rangnick too. He wants to leave United because he wants to play football, and I’m not sure he’d get the minutes at Spurs either. It feels like if he does decide to make a Bosman move to another club it’ll be somewhere where he’s comfortably first choice. West Ham obviously are keen to bring him back considering how good he was on loan there. But we’ll see!