‘The amount Jesse wanted was just not worth that risk’

Michael Johnson was pleased that this summer's Lingard saga has finally come to end

We all remember what an amazing loanee Jesse Lingard was when he came to us in the January 2021 transfer window. 

Undoubtedly, he asserted himself as a fan favourite when he scored two goals on his debut in our 3-1 win against Aston Villa.

The nine goals and four assists in his first 10 Premier League fixtures for us added to his prowess and he was certainly proving himself as one of the best loans I’d ever seen play for us. 

With his brilliant spell, helping us claim a Europa League spot, we all were desperate for him to become a permanent signing. 

Transfer rumours of him coming back last January, I assume fell through as we were challenging similar positions to Manchester United.

This proved to work for the Red Devils, as even though he only scored two goals last season, his late goal against us made the difference with them finishing above us.


Since Lingard’s contract expired this summer, I really did believe he would come back to us.

He had such an amazing spell with us; the fans loved him and he started playing for England again. Why wouldn’t he return to the Irons? 

He was asking for a substantial amount of money, understandably after the wages he’d been on, but I assumed he would agree to a more appropriate offer. 

However, when he went over to America to explore the MLS, I thought that he must be joking.

The fans loved him, but it had been a year since he played for us. The bond we had wasn’t as strong as it had once been. 

It seemed balatanly clear to us fans that he was more interested in the money. With the likes of Bowen hitting quality form last season and such a strong squad of countless players, why would we sabotage our wage structure for someone that could end up flopping?


With transfer rumours circulating for multiple clubs, I became tired of the previously admired player of mine. 

When I heard that Forest had signed him, I was neither happy nor annoyed, rather I was just pleased this saga had at last come to an end.

It seemed obvious that he wasn’t committed to us and I think it would have been crazy to agree to the wages, which he was demanding. 

It still seems strange to me, why a player wouldn’t choose European football over a newly promoted team that could go straight back down. Potentially, he may have wanted to get regular first team football, in order to impress Southgate, something he might not have got at West Ham.


Even though I’m upset with the way he dealt with us in this window, I was previously hopeful he would’ve been back wearing claret and blue.

His creativity on and off the ball was something that was really refreshing to see at the London Stadium.

When assessing his performances, you can’t fail to mention his goal against Wolves in our 3-2 victory against them in April. 

It was something quite special, watching him run from our own half to score a brilliant, solo goal, which then justly earned the Goal of the Month in the Premier League.

Following such a long absence from the club, would he have performed in the same manner as his first appearances? 

Undoubtedly, the last time he was with us, we could all tell that he had a fire and a passion to prove something. 

High expectations

Would this have been the same case, if he returned? I believe fans would have been excited to see a repeat of his skills, but the combination of a high wage would have equally led to high expectations.

Could this have been too much pressure for a player, who only started two Premier League games last season?

Looking back at the applause we gave Lingard when coming on from the bench for Man Utd this last season, I wonder if he will receive such a positive reaction when he comes to us in a Forest shirt.

Certainly last time, we were grateful for what he had done for us and we knew his decision to stay was out of his hands.

This time however, it was completely his choice. A level of frustration by the fan base towards the 29-year-old on his decision to go to a lower team, would indeed not be surprising and even assumed.

Could it be a possibility that he will be met with an echo of disparaging boos from us Irons? I think this is a very likely scenario.

The amount Lingard was asking for was just not worth that risk. With a squad of highly skilled players on lower salaries and with plenty of talent elsewhere, who have played a greater amount of football recently, I think this decision will work out in our favour. 

Although it was disappointing to not see him return, overall I think it’s for the best.

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