Barcelona are seriously considering handing a contract to former Manchester United attacking midfielder Jesse Lingard as they scour the market for cut-price recruits, according to reports.
The Catalan club have struggled for consistency this season and have fallen eight points adrift of Real Madrid in La Liga – though have played a game less – while they were thumped 4-1 by their Clasico rivals in the Spanish Supercopa final at the weekend.
That has led to some questions from within the dressing room over Xavi’s management of the team, though sporting director Deco has backed the coach and will try to provide him with reinforcements this month.
Due to financial fair play rules, however, Barca are once again hamstrung in terms of what they can spend and will have to make do with bargain deals or free transfers.
According to Mundo Deportivo, one player they are considering as a low-cost option is Lingard, who has been out of contract since leaving Nottingham Forest in the summer.
He has been working hard to maintain his fitness and spent a month training with Steven Gerrard’s Al-Ettifaq, though was ultimately unable to agree a financial package with the Saudi Pro League side.
That is not expected to be an issue with Barcelona, with Lingard willing to compromise on his salary demands in order to secure a move to Camp Nou.
Lingard realises it would be a huge opportunity to reignite his career and potentially add some more trophies to his CV, with Barca still competing in the Champions League – where they take on Napoli in the last 16.
In order to participate in Europe, Lingard would need to be registered before midnight on February 2, though he can be registered at any time to play in La Liga.
Barca, who actually looked at signing Lingard in the past but instead went for Ferran Torres, intend to wait as long as possible before committing to a deal in case any other opportunities arise in the market.
There has been suggestions they would try and bolster their midfield options by swooping for Newcastle’s Bruno Guimaraes, but any deal for the Brazilian looks extremely unlikely.
Although Lingard had an unspectacular campaign with Forest last season, he has shown his goalscoring potential in the past, notably netting eight times under Jose Mourinho in the 2017-18 season and bagging nine goals in 16 outings on loan at West Ham in 2021.
Lingard has changed agents in an effort to find a new club and has most recently been linked with a move to Major League Soccer side the Portland Timbers, though a switch to Barca would be his preference.
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