Nottingham Forest have completed the signing of England attacking midfielder Jesse Lingard following his departure from Manchester United, in a real statement-of-intent transfer for the newly-promoted Reds.
Original article published 22 August 2022
The 29-year-old was released over the summer following an association of nearly two decades at United and he had been linked with a number of clubs.
West Ham were thought to be early favourties following his very successful loan spell under David Moyes the season before last while offers from the MLS and Saudi Arabia were also on the table.
Earlier this week, however, Forest made contact with Lingard and gazumped their rivals as they persuaded the Warrington-born attacker to pen a one-year deal at the City Ground.
Lingard is Forest's 11th signing of a very busy summer and they can be backed at 4/6 to avoid the drop in their first top-flight season since the millennium.
Logically, a move to West Ham had seemed the most likely for Lingard, given how brilliant he was for the Hammers in the second half of the 2020-21 season.
That spell earned him a route back into the England squad and although he didn't make the final cut for Euro 2020, he was revitalised by the temporary switch.
It is therefore a testament to Forest's stature as a club that despite 23 years outside of the top flight, they still have the power to attract players with a profile such as Lingard's.
Forest are former European Cup winners but they had been stagnating for much of the last decade before promotion, and now they are shopping in markets that fellow promoted sides Fulham and Bournemouth would be struggling in.
Lingard is reportedly earning big money at Forest and their wage structure has been broken with the arrival of the exuberant attacker.
However, he has only signed a one-year contract so if the worst were to happen and Forest get relegated, he would leave on a free and there will be no excess baggage in the Championship.
If Forest avoid the drop, his salary would be offset by the enormous financial rewards that the Premier League offer so, overall, it is appears to be a deal that cannot fail.
Last season, boss Steve Cooper adopted a 3-4-3 system at the City Ground and in many ways, Lingard is perfect for such a style.
He doesn't really have a defined position - he can play out wide, as a midfielder, a number ten, and even a support striker so he covers multiple bases.
A player like Lingard will fit in well in a Forest formation which is quite malleable - the three up front all have licence to interchange which is something Lingard would like.
Philip Zinckernagel played that role very well in the Championship last season and Cooper will be hoping that Lingard is essentially a deluxe upgrade.
Bringing goals to the team will be vital too as Forest look to survive in the Premier League. They will need to ease the burden on last season's top scorer Brennan Johnson, who netted 19 times but is entering his first year of top-flight football, and Lingard should be able to help in that regard.
Lingard might not have been tempted to join Forest had they not already made a number of eye-catching signings.
No one can accuse them of not trying everything to improve their squad and they have certainly been the most aggressive of the three promoted clubs in the market this summer.
Lingard will be already well-acquainted with goalkeeper Dean Henderson, who is looking to give his career a boost after 12 months sat warming the Manchester United bench.
Forest have added insult to injury to Huddersfield Town - after beating them in the play off final, they have now poached two of the Terriers' star players in left-back Harry Toffolo and midfielder Lewis O'Brien.
Neco Williams always displayed potential at Liverpool and Forest have parted with £17million for the Wales international full-back, while striker Taiwo Awoniyi and defender Moussa Niakhate arrive with big Bundesliga reputations.
All of those arrivals have added further excitement to Forest ahead of their season opener at Newcastle United - Forest are 4/1 to get off to the perfect start with Newcastle at 13/20 and the draw at 3/1.