England’s preparations for the European Championship have taken a hit just a week before the tournament is due to kick off.
Gareth Southgate needs to tweak his 26-man squad, which was only announced a few days ago, due to an injury to Liverpool full-back Trent Alexander-Arnold.
The defender was among those touted to miss out on a spot at the tournament but his recent performances for Jurgen Klopp’s side could not be ignored, ultimately leading to Southgate remarkably naming four right-sided full-backs in his squad.
Now though, changes are afoot and the players that missed out on selection could get a second opportunity.
Among the players waiting on standby is Manchester United midfielder Jesse Lingard, who excelled on loan at West Ham in the second half of the season to force his way back into international contention.
Despite his performances, Lingard was overlooked for a spot in the final squad but is one of the leading candidates to take Alexander-Arnold’s place, having featured in Wednesday’s win against Austria.
His fightback into international contention came after an 18-month exile from the Three Lions scene and was well deserved, having netted nine goals and contributed five assists during his loan spell in east London.
Few could argue against Lingard being deserving of a second opportunity and, given England’s already limited options in the centre of midfield, the likelihood is he will get minutes if he is recalled.
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That could turn out to be a huge benefit for United, as eye-catching performances from Lingard at the international tournament could raise interest in his services, as well as increase his price-tag.
West Ham boss David Moyes has already expressed his desire to land the player on a permanent basis, saying last month : “I hope Jesse is here [next season], we would like to keep him but there is no guarantee, he is not our player. He has done an exceptional job for us on loan and we will see where we go from there.”
United are unlikely to stand in the way of a permanent move for Lingard, especially as his contract is due to expire next summer, and a sale would raise funds for other activity – which may include another deal with West Ham.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side are keen to sign Declan Rice from the Hammers to strengthen their midfield and a part-exchange deal involving Lingard could incur lower fees if his value were to rise due to his performances with England.
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However, West Ham are adamant that they will not sell, especially after securing Europa League football next season, and it will take a huge sum of money to change that stance – undoubtedly in excess of £100m.
Even so, selling Lingard would command a decent price that can be utilised in the market to pursue alternative targets, with Jadon Sancho and Raphael Varane top of the shortlist in their respective positions.
With other members of the squad also potentially up for sale, Lingard could be among a number of players offloaded who can put additional cash into Solskjaer’s transfer kitty.