The ‘typical West Ham signing’ tag is often afforded to ageing players whose predicted stardom never quite realises itself. Jesse Lingard certainly matched this stereotype and arrived in London with everything to prove.
In Lingard’s first four games for West Ham, he picked up three goals and an assist, an admirable haul for any player in the league. However, these weren’t just any mid-season games.
When Lingard made his debut for the Hammers in a battle against fellow high-flyers Aston Villa, it was fair to say expectations were not high.
However, by the end of the game, Lingard’s impact was immediately obvious having scored two goals in a 3-1 victory against the Midlands side.
At his parent club Manchester United, Lingard proved to be a versatile and loyal player, racking up 33 goals and 20 assists in 210 games across seven seasons for the Reds.
Notably this spell also included 5 different managers, holding his spot through the most tumultuous period in the clubs recent history, following Sir Alex’s retirement.
This period culminated in the zenith of his career, representing and starring for his country at the World Cup. He earned cult-like status over this memorable summer, scoring for the Three Lions in a 6-1 thrashing of Panama in the group stages, helped to convert many of those quick to criticise him over his puerile antics.
Alas, this high was followed by a low in the 2020-2021 season, with Lingard being cut from the 13-time Premier league winning side almost entirely. Only picking up three appearances in the half season led to a loan-move in January.
This frustrating fall from grace for the homegrown talent was seemingly a long time coming. Fanbases became increasingly more attentive to younger players in the squad, disapproving of these spaces being filled by players of Lingard’s profile.
This entire process was a part of the facelift given to the club’s midfield after the arrival of talisman Bruno Fernandes in the start of 2020. When revitalising the playing-style, manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer clearly had other plans for Lingard.
Is it too early to call this move a success? Definitely. His form will obviously undergo much fluctuation, with West Ham’s transfer business often leading to more questions than answers.
But for now, Lingard can look back at his start for the Hammers with pride. At least for a short period, aided by his contributions, they sit fourth in the best league in the world.