Jesse Lingard: Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder faces an anxious wait in the battle for top transfer target

Sheffield United could be forced to wait until the end of the transfer window before discovering if their bid to sign Jesse Lingard proves successful, after it emerged they also face competition from a number of clubs both at home and abroad in the race for the England international’s services.

Thursday, 21st January 2021, 6:00 am
Updated Thursday, 21st January 2021, 9:57 am

As The Star reported earlier this week, officials acting on Chris Wilder’s behalf have presented Lingard with a detailed proposal outlining how the 53-year-old plans to use him should he join them on loan from Manchester United.

Despite calling upon his services only three times this term, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Wilder’s counterpart at Old Trafford, is reluctant to sanction Lingard’s departure as the 20-time champions chase their first title since 2013.

Although Wilder would have preferred to receive an answer at the beginning of the month, he is prepared to bid his time for a player United’s coaching staff believe can help their squad climb off the bottom of the table and claw back the 11 point gap separating them from 17th place.

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Chris Wilder wants to bring Jesse Lingard to Sheffield United: Darren Staples/Sportimage

Despite erring on the side of caution, Solskjaer is still expected to allow Lingard to leave the North-West if he is satisfied Manchester United have enough options at their disposal to cope with injuries and suspensions between now and May.

Although United are confident their poor start to the campaign - they enter this weekend’s FA Cup tie against Plymouth Argyle having won only two of their 21 matches so far this term - does not represent a barrier towards Lingard’s signature in itself, they will be concerned at the calibre and financial strength of his other suitors. West Ham and Tottenham Hotspur are also understood to be monitoring Lingard’s situation closely, while Real Sociadad and Porto have reportedly expressed an interest.

Like United, officials from Nice recently held talks with Lingard’s representatives about a potential switch to France. However, they are now thought to be pursuing alternative targets.

Wilder has also made it plain he wants to secure cover at centre-half, after acknowledging it is impossible to set an exact date on Jack O’Connell’s comeback following knee surgery. The defender, who has been pictured training at the Steelphalt Academy this week, has been absent since September.

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