Former Arsenal star turned pundit Paul Merson has reacted to Jesse Lingard’s shock transfer to Nottingham Forest.
The England international found himself facing an uncertain future at the end of the season.
After failing to extend his contract at Manchester United, Lingard, 29, became a free agent, and although wanted back by former loan club West Ham, the midfielder recently agreed to join Steve Cooper’s Reds.
Here’s Jesse Lingard with his new Nottingham Forest shirt together with Miltiadis Marinakis. Here we go confirmed. ??? #NFFC
One year deal signed, medical last night. pic.twitter.com/p0q4Rvu88n
— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) July 21, 2022
The 29-year-old’s move not only took a lot of people by surprise, but it also raised questions about what the midfielder’s motives were for joining a newly promoted club instead of the Hammers, who will play European football next season.
Writing in his Daily Star column about the former United playmaker’s decision to move to the City Ground, Merson said: “Lingard is a good player.
“But none of the Big Six clubs were in for him. And I can’t believe Nottingham Forest are paying him a king’s ransom to go there.
“He was probably holding out for a big club. He could have signed for West Ham a year or so ago. But the big clubs didn’t come calling. He’s basically lost a season of his career sitting waiting at Manchester United and now he’s going to Nottingham Forest.”
Going on to predict how Lingard will do at Forest, Merson thinks the 29-year-old will be starved of opportunities, something he did not experience while with David Moyes’ Hammers 18-months ago.
“No disrespect, Forest have done great and the manager is different class, but he’ll be working on scraps there. He’ll play games for them where he’s not had a sniff of a goal,” the ex-Gunner added.
“Maybe he wants to make sure he plays every week. And fair play to him if that’s the case. He’s missed a lot of football. It’s a short career, he’s not getting any younger, and he needs to play every week. Forest need an X-Factor and Lingard can be that.”
How many goals do you think Lingard will contribute to next season? – Let us know in the comments.