The summer transfer window is long since over, and Jesse Lingard had been training with West Ham in order to keep his fitness up and earn himself a playing contract at the club where he’d enjoyed a productive loan spell two seasons ago.
Until the last few days, everything had gone quiet as far as the player and the Hammers were concerned but Fabrizio Romano tweeted a bombshell on Saturday morning.
??? Jesse Lingard has joined Al Ettifaq on training valid for one month — as he’s still available as free agent.
Up to Lingard and Ettifaq if they want to proceed together, Steven Gerrard will be key to decide too. pic.twitter.com/aYMhubGYgd
— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) September 22, 2023
According to the transfer expert, Lingard has flown to Saudi Arabia to join up with Steven Gerrard’s Al Ettifaq side, where he will be training for a month – again, one assumes to earn a contract.
What’s confusing is that West Ham don’t appear to have ruled out the prospect of signing him themselves.
David Moyes on Jesse Lingard at press conference this lunch time “Yea I think Jesse is starting to get himself back, he’s had the best part of a month now like pre-season work and is involved in a lot of the football. So he’s doing well but we’ve got no real update to give you… pic.twitter.com/vGF06eTwIf
— West Ham Football (@westhamfootball) September 22, 2023
A tweet from the West Ham Football account shows a screen grab from Lingard’s social media account which shows him on his way to Dubai (one assumes as a stop off before the short hop to Saudi), but this is accompanied by a quote from manager, David Moyes, that’s both non-committal and doesn’t rule out a move.
“Yea I think Jesse is starting to get himself back, he’s had the best part of a month now like pre-season work and is involved in a lot of the football. So he’s doing well but we’ve got no real update to give you from what I’ve said before,” Moyes apparently said.
“But we’re happy to try and get Jesse in the right condition.”
What appears abundantly clear at this stage is that the player isn’t in the right physical condition to play elite level football, and unless he can get back to that, a move to any Premier League club is likely to be off the table.