Paul Merson has suggested that West Ham’s Jesse Lingard could ultimately be the difference in the club’s aim to finish in the top four of the Premier League this season.
It would have seemed unlikely at the beginning of the campaign, but the Hammers now find themselves competing for the Champions League positions after 25 league games.
David Moyes’ team currently sit fourth in the league table, with a two-point cushion over fifth-placed Chelsea.
The Irons have 10 points from their previous four top-flight games to move up the table and a mid-season recruit has played a major role at the London Stadium.
Lingard, who earns £75,000-a-week (Spotrac), joined West Ham in the previous transfer window on loan from Manchester United for the rest of the season.
He’s started his Hammers career with three goals and one assist in four appearances.
The 28-year-old attacking midfielder has reignited some form at his new club and is proving it was perhaps wrong for him to be overlooked at Old Trafford for so long.
Pundit Merson has been discussing West Ham’s chances of finishing in the top four and is tipping them to miss out, but has highlighted the influence of Lingard.
“I said on transfer deadline day I thought Jesse Lingard was the signing of the window. To get someone of his quality from Manchester United is a great coup for West Ham,” he told Sky Sports.
“He was always going to be better than what they had so it was a great signing. At the moment, he is doing well, and he could well prove to be the difference [in finishing in the top four], who knows?”
Lingard had failed to play a single minute in the league this season before his loan transfer, which is why it’s a surprise he’s made such the impact.
The English playmaker was clearly going to add an extra spark going forward and some extra flair, but the way he’s settled so quickly is remarkable and scoring twice on his debut against Aston Villa has set him on his way nicely.
Some are hinting at a possible recall to the England squad in time for the European Championships, but perhaps that’s a stretch too far.