Ligue 1 giants OGC Nice are reportedly set to rival Newcastle United and West Ham United in the pursuit for Manchester United fringe star Jesse Lingard.

According to Foot Mercato, French outfit OGC Nice are preparing to leapfrog the likes of Newcastle and West Ham United in the race to sign Jesse Lingard this January. The 29-year-old has entered the final six months of his Manchester United contract and is yet to sign an extension at the club, so the January window will be the club’s last chance to receive a fee for him.

The Manchester United playmaker has endured a difficult season, first becoming a peripheral figure at the club under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and now under Ralf Rangnick. The Englishman has fallen down the pecking order at Old Trafford, with even Anthony Elanga moving ahead of him. The 29-year-old desperately needs first-team action to reclaim his spot in Gareth Southgate’s squad for the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

Lingard had a very impressive loan spell at West Ham United, where he scored nine goals and provided five assists in just 16 Premier League appearances in the second half of last season to fire the Hammers to a sixth-placed European finish.

Indeed, there is no shortage of suitors for the England international, including West Ham and Newcastle United. The Manchester United ace has also gained some traction outside England, particularly from Ligue 1 club OGC Nice, who are taking a keen interest in landing the 29-year-old attacking midfielder.

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The French giants are enjoying a superb campaign, currently sitting second in Ligue 1, 11 points off runaway leaders Paris Saint-Germain. Christophe Galtier is a firm admirer of Lingard’s talents and wants to bolster his wide options to add more competition and dynamism to his current roster.

They can make do with someone of Lingard’s quality and versatility. His attacking prowess and goalscoring ability would make Galtier’s side even more unpredictable in the final third. Moreover, with Marseille within touching distance of Nice, acquiring the English attacker could prove to be a masterstroke in holding on to an automatic Champions League berth this term.

Newcastle, meanwhile, are looking to add firepower to their attacking contingent to boost their Premier League survival bid. They have been pushing hard to complete a permanent deal worth £12 million for Lingard this month but have struggled to convince the 29-year-old, who reportedly favours a temporary move to St. James’ Park given they could be playing in the Championship next season.

West Ham retain a their long-standing interest in Lingard. Said Benrahma has joined Algeria for the Africa Cup of Nations, while summer signing Nikola Vlasic has yet to hit his stride on English shores. Lingard fits David Moyes’s system perfectly, but Manchester United are wary of not strengthening other top-four rivals, which effectively rules out the Hammers in the race to sign Lingard.

Nice have emerged as an appealing proposition for Lingard. However, the Ligue 1 club may struggle to compete financially against cash-rich Newcastle. It remains to be seen where Lingard will be playing his football when the January transfer window closes.

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