Barcelona and AC Milan are interested in signing Manchester United midfielder Jesse Lingard, according to reports from The Daily Mail. The Englishman's current contract runs out next summer, making him available on a free transfer.
Lingard graduated from the Manchester United academy, rising through the ranks from one age category to the next. He was then sent on loan several times to clubs including Leicester City and Derby County before making his first-team debut in 2014.
Since then, Lingard has played 216 matches for Manchester United, scoring 35 goals and assisting 21 more. While the numbers aren't overly impressive, the 28-year-old is still an immensely talented midfielder.
Barcelona's rumored interest in Lingard does not seem to entirely add up. While the Blaugrana's financial situation has led to them chasing free transfers, it is also worth noting that they are already stacked in midfield.
Barcelona currently boast the likes of Pedri, Pablo Gavi, Frenkie de Jong and Sergio Busquets. The Catalans also have Riqui Puig and Sergi Roberto as options on the bench. As a result, it is difficult to see how another midfielder in Jesse Lingard would fit into Barcelona's plans.
AC Milan, on the other hand, could do with midfield reinforcements next summer. The Rossoneri lost Hakan Calhonoglu to rivals Inter Milan this summer. Milan have also failed to reach an agreement to extend Franck Kessie's contract, which is set to expire next summer.
This season, the club have been dependent on youngster Brahim Diaz in creative midfield. While Diaz has put in some impressive performances, it is worth noting that he too joined AC Milan on loan from Real Madrid until 2023. Signing Jesse Lingard from Manchester United could bolster their midfield ahead of the 2022-23 season.
It remains to be seen if either Barcelona or AC Milan will secure Lingard's signature.
How has Barcelona and Milan target Jesse Lingard fared for Manchester United this season?
Despite the speculation around his contract situation, Lingard has proven to be extremely useful for Manchester United this season.
The Englishman, who impressed while on loan at West Ham United last season, returned to Old Trafford in a bid to regain his place in the starting XI. Lingard has struggled to do that, however, due to the presence of Bruno Fernandes. He has instead operated as a super-sub to provide the Red Devils with energy and creativity in the latter parts of matches.
Lingard has made six appearances for Manchester United this season and has registered two goals and an assist. The numbers are quite impressive considering he has only started one of those matches.
Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is said to be a fan of Lingard. However, recent reports have suggested the midfielder rejected a contract renewal offer from the Red Devils last month. As things stand, Lingard can begin negotiating a free transfer with other clubs from January onwards.
Barcelona and AC Milan in particular will be following his situation keenly.