Rice urges ‘gem’ who has ‘changed’ squad to stay at West Ham
Declan Rice has pleaded with team-mate Jesse Lingard to turn his West Ham loan into a permanent deal ahead of next season.
Lingard, 28, made the switch from Manchester United to the London Stadium during the January transfer window. He was virtually redundant at Old Trafford but things could not be more different under David Moyes. The England forward has scored nine Premier League goals from 15 starts and assisted many more.
He has been credited with helping the Hammers push for a top-four spot. That challenge ultimately ended in failure but they are still sixth and have every chance of qualifying for the Europa League.
Lingard’s future has garnered many column inches since his switch to the East End. Moyes has made it clear he would love to have the former Derby County loan man at his disposal next term.
But the Scot is also unsure whether his side could afford to purchase him from the Red Devils. But Rice has stated what his preferences are and outlined just what Lingard has done for the team.
“I hope he does (stay), I really hope he does,” he told Redknapp’s Big Night Out (via the Evening Standard). “He has changed our squad completely.
“From the first session he was brave on the ball, he’s an out and out No10 – always on the half-turn and facing forward and that is the player we needed.
“The game he played against Villa when he scored two, we knew we had a real gem on our hands.”
Options open for Lingard
United hold the power in deciding Lingard’s future as he is under contact at Old Trafford until the summer of 2022. And reports emerged earlier this week that manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has already made up his mind over the Warrington-born star.
It remains to be seen which way the Norwegian goes but other clubs might also enter the picture. Ligue 1 club Nice are said to hold an interest but that would seem an unlikely route for him to take.
Lingard is hoping to be picked for England’s Euro 2020 challenge this summer after returning to the Three Lions squad in March. Should he get the call from Gareth Southgate, then it is likely that his future plans will be on hold.
Lingard and West Ham seem a match made in heaven. Moyes is on the lookout for a new striker in the off-season but it might be that securing Lingard could be his most important piece of business.
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