Paul Merson sends warning to Jesse Lingard after Nottingham Forest deal

Former Arsenal star Paul Merson has reacted to Jesse Lingard’s shock transfer to Nottingham Forest.

There was a lot of speculation about where Lingard would end up this summer following the expiry of his contract at Manchester United. Lingard will hope a season a under Nottingham Forest manager Steve Cooper will help put him back in the frame for Gareth Southgate’s England squad.

Lingard will need to hit the ground running at the newly promoted Premier League side if he is to make the squad in time for the World Cup later this year.

The move took a lot of people by surprise, including Merson. Many were of the opinion Lingard was destined to return to West Ham or maybe even join Newcastle United, though it didn’t seem like there were many big clubs interested in his signature.

That said, Lingard is set to earn £200,000-per-week at the City Ground.

At 29, it could be an unwelcome reality call to the Manchester United academy graduate, but I’m sure he will look to make the most of his situation next season.

Writing in his Daily Star column about the former United midfielder’s decision to join Forest, Merson said: “Lingard is a good player.

“But none of the Big Six clubs were in for him. And I can’t believe Nottingham Forest are paying him a king’s ransom to go there.

“He was probably holding out for a big club. He could have signed for West Ham a year or so ago. But the big clubs didn’t come calling. He’s basically lost a season of his career sitting waiting at Manchester United and now he’s going to Nottingham Forest.”

Merson doesn’t think it will be all fun and games at Forest for Lingard. He adds: “No disrespect, Forest have done great and the manager is different class, but he’ll be working on scraps there. He’ll play games for them where he’s not had a sniff of a goal.

“Maybe he wants to make sure he plays every week. And fair play to him if that’s the case. He’s missed a lot of football. It’s a short career, he’s not getting any younger, and he needs to play every week. Forest need an X-Factor and Lingard can be that.”

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