Everton needs quality and lightness. Everton needs Jesse ‘The Jester’ Lingard.
We said a year ago Lingard to Everton was the most predictable transfer of all time, not because it would have been a particularly good or bad move, but because it’s just very Everton to sign someone who isn’t quite good enough for Manchester United.
At that point it was Lingard without a goal or assist in his last 32 Premier League games. However, after sealing a loan move to slightly less Everton-like West Ham, he scored nine goals and made five assists in 16 Premier League games and was considered by many to be wrongly kicked out of England’s Euro 2020 squad.
Has made a permanent move to Goodison Park was discussed again this summer. And while the predictability of the transfer remains, the typically negative connotations of such an Everton deal have been banished after a spell by United that has led to questions about why they wanted to sell it in the first place. Lingard to Everton would no longer be greeted with glee by rival fans, but with jealousy; it would be the perfect tonic for a team that needed a shot of strength.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said “Jesse is currently in the making”but it feels like the time is right for him to leave Old Trafford. Competition with Jadon Sancho, Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial, Mason Greenwood, Daniel James and (perhaps) Paul Pogba on the two broad forward positions would certainly mean Lingard is a peripheral part of these plans. And if there’s one thing that his time at West Ham exemplified – besides his obvious quality – it’s that he fucking loves to play football.
And he would play football at Everton. Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Richarlison are the sure starters in a group of otherwise mediocre strikers. Demarai Gray is a good addition, but that’s more price than anything Assurance that he will be turned more upside down. Andros Townsend is somehow only 30 years old, but seems to have been a member of the “good professional” gang for at least the last two seasons. Alex Iwobi will forever be the most Everton signing ever and yes, in his case that’s meant in its purest derogatory form. James Rodriguez and Moise Kean would both rather go and Bernhard is already gone.
Not that statistics are particularly necessary to show how much better Lingard was than the aforementioned Everton strikers, but he outperformed all of them (per 90 minutes) in goals (0.57), assists (0.35), Shot generating actions (3.86), goal generation of actions (0.70) and printing success (4.50). There is no doubt that he would make this Everton better.
But it would also remove a general malaise at Everton. It is as if the manager and the players are going into the new season like an overweight obstacle runner; they get f *** ed at the first hurdle. They need something positive and it’s hard to feel unhappy with Lingard.
We obviously assume that the Everton players are not having much fun right now. They may well be fine that Carlo Ancelotti loves and leaves them and the excitement over the fans’ disgust over the appointment of Rafael Benitez, the player’s suspension following a police investigation which, Anger by Fabian Delph and the fact that other teams didn’t feel like getting on a flight to play against them in a pre-season tournament. But it feels like it’s less Drake and more The Smiths booming from the locker room’s bluetooth speakers; Heaven knows they are miserable now.
And assuming there are frowns, Lingard would surely turn them upside down with a few Michael Jackson shoots and a bit of celebratory choreography. David Moyes – no less a grizzled Scot – spoke not only of Lingard’s brilliance on the pitch, but also of the buoyancy and energy he gave him and the entire West Ham team.
Lingard is the knight who comes the same day, the court jester comes later that day and swaps the armor on the field for a changing room cap and bells. He combines great character with outstanding technical skills; Everton needs both.