Everton are reportedly ready to rival West Ham in pursuit of Jesse Lingard, despite speculations suggesting a prolonged stay at Manchester United.

According to The Sun, Everton have entered the race to sign Jesse Lingard. Their newly appointed head coach Rafael Benitez is determined to shore up his attacking options, with the Manchester United midfielder emerging as the latest target.

Lingard has become quite a hot topic in the English market following his highly successful loan spell at West Ham during the second half of last season. Quite predictably, the Hammers are keen on retaining the services of the Englishman, whose Manchester United contract expires next summer.

Largely playing second fiddle to Bruno Fernandes, Lingard joined West Ham in January in a short-term loan deal. He ended up becoming a huge success, with nine goals and five assists in just 16 matches. His contributions in the final third were critical in helping the Londoners finish in the top six.

However, recent reports suggest that Lingard’s father is conducting talks with Manchester United over a potential extension of his contract. The player is reportedly keen on prolonging his stay at Old Trafford, in an attempt to fight for a place in the first team.

Set to move on in the summer? (Picture Courtesy - AFP/Getty Images)

Set to move on in the summer? (Picture Courtesy – AFP/Getty Images)

It served as a massive blow for West Ham, who have already identified a potential alternative in Matheus Pereira. But Everton might not be swayed that easily, given they are financially capable of pulling off a deal for the Manchester United star while the presence of Benitez would be an added positive.

From a sporting perspective, Lingard is likely to serve as a potential replacement for James Rodriguez. The highly-rated Colombian international has become a transfer target for Real Madrid after Los Blancos hired former Everton boss Carlo Ancelotti.

Rodriguez’s departure should create a massive void in Everton’s creative unit, a hole Lingard will be expected to fill. The Manchester United midfielder has already proven his quality at West Ham, offering not only creativity but also productivity going forward. It should be useful, especially if combined well with the likes of Richarlison and Dominic Calvert-Lewin.

Manchester United themselves would logically want prefer a sale, knowing his contract expires next year. The presence of Donny van Beek and Bruno Fernandes already blocks Lingard’s route to being a regular, although the latter has been linked with a potential exit this summer.

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