Jesse Lingard has completed a surprise move to South Korean side FC Seoul.
The former Manchester United forward has signed a two-year deal with the option to add a third with the K League 1 side.
Mail Sport understands that the 31-year-old, who was released from his contract at Nottingham Forest at the end of last season, had offers from as many as 26 clubs from around the world, including FC Seoul and Lazio.
The news was confirmed on Instagram on Wednesday, with Lingard posting a photo of himself wearing an FC Seoul jersey while writing: ‘New beginnings! So excited to finally get back on the pitch and do what I love the most.
‘I’m so grateful for the love and support in South Korea, @FC Seoul.’
Reports earlier this week stated that Lingard could be in line to earn around £17,500 per week, which equates to £910,000 per year. Lingard had signed a contract renewal at Man United in 2017 that saw him net £100,000-per-week.
Jesse Lingard has completed a move to South Korean side FC Seoul after having spent the last seven months as a free agent
Lingard took to Instagram to write that he was eager to get back on the pitch
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Despite that he is believed to become the highest-paid player in the K League if those figures are believed to be correct. According to the club’s website, Lingard has now completed his move and will join the team’s winter training camp in Kagoshima.
Appearing in a separate video on the club’s Instagram, the ex-Man United forward said: ‘My dream from a young child was to play in the Premier League and I’ve always worked hard to achieve that goal. I’ve always wanted different challenges to create new memories in my career and I believe being in South Korea is the place for that. Jesse Lingard is in FC Seoul.’
He added: ‘Based on respect for Korean football, I am excited to represent the K-League as soon as possible by playing good football and dedication to my new team, FC Seoul. I am looking forward to meeting coach Kim Gidong and to make an impact in the team.’
In a statement on the club’s website, FC Seoul wrote: ‘This is enough news to capture the eyes and ears of Korean soccer fans as it is a challenge for the K League by a player with the highest name value in the 41-year history of the K League.
‘FC Seoul as a leading club in the K League, has been taking the lead in recruiting big names with both skill and popularity and has been consistently making imactful attempts that will lead not only to the success of the K League but also to the development of Korean soccer.
‘This recruitment was accomplished as a surprise as the future-oriented vision and goals of both FC Seoul and Lingard coincided.’
Speculation around a move to the Asian club emerged last week, with Lingard subsequently posting a picture of himself at the airport preparing to check in for a Korean Air flight on Monday.
His move would come ahead of the commencement of the Korean first division, with Seoul set to kick start their K League season against Gwangju on March 2.
Lingard was released by Nottingham Forest in the summer after having struggled to impress at the City ground
The former Man United forward had been searching for a club since departing forest last summer
Speaking on FC Seoul’s Instagram Lingard said he was ‘excited to represent the team in the K League’
Lingard spent 14 years on the books at Manchester United after graduating through the club’s academy. He made his Premier League debut for the Red Devils in 2014, before going on to score 35 times in 232 appearances across all competitions with United.
During that period, he’d also spend time on loan with Leicester, Birmingham, Derby and West Ham, before eventually departing Old Trafford on a free transfer to Forest in 2022.
The 31-year-old subsequently endured a tough time with Steve Cooper’s side, scoring twice in 20 appearances across all competitions, before being released again in July 2023.
The free agent had been searching for a new club over the past seven months, having reportedly had an opportunity to join French side Lille while also reaching out to Portland Timbers over a free transfer to the MLS side. Neither move came to fruition.
Lingard, who has been capped 32 times for England, had also spent time training with West Ham before moving to work with Steven Gerrard’s Al-Ettifaq.
David Moyes’ side had reportedly not ‘been interested in offering him a contract’ following his trial – an arrangement which had reportedly cost the Hammers thousands.
Al-Ettifaq, who had originally seemed keen to sign Lingard, also ultimately decided against offering him a contract.
Lingard, who played over 200 times for Manchester United, shared a bullish Instagram post
Lingard had been without a club for the last seven months, but had spent time training with both West Ham and Al-Ettifaq
Lingard has continued to work hard on the training pitch posting training montages of himself on social media
The situation had reportedly left the ex-Man United star frustrated, with Lingard terminating a long and complex agreement with his former agents, that included some members of his family, in January.
He subsequently took to Instagram to share a bullish message that read: ‘My focus is different. My time is being invested in growth. I don’t expect people to understand what I’m up to. Eventually, they will.’
He added another picture of himself on the training pitch, writing: ‘High vibrations and good energy only!’
In the meantime, he continued to share montages of himself training on social media as he searched for a new club.
Lingard also posted several pictures of himself training in a high-end gym in Dubai
Paiul Scholes showed no mercy to the free agent after he posted the shots of himself training online
The pictures caught the attention of former Man United midfielder Paul Scholes, who savaged Lingard, writing on his Instagram post: ‘Are you just gonna f*** about in the gym or are you gonna actually play football?’
Despite claims that he was distracted by off-field interests, Lingard spoke in 2022 admitting he ‘felt misunderstood at times’ and insisted ‘I love training and I love playing football’.
Before joining Forest, the 31-year-old enjoyed a successful loan spell with West Ham in 2021.
He went on to scored nine goals in 16 appearances for the the west London side, appearing to spark a good relaitonship with Moyes.
The 31-year-old enjoyed a successful loan spell with West Ham in 2021, scoring nine goals in 16 appearances
Lingard would win several major honours during his time at Man United including scoring the winning goal in the 2016 FA Cup final
He has also tasted his fair share of major honours, with Lingard having won the Europa League, League Cup, Charity Shield and FA Cup with Man United.
Lingard notably scored the winning goal during the 2016 FA Cup final, powering in a stunning volley to help Man United defeat Crystal Palace 2-1 at Wembley.
He would also represent England at the 2018 World Cup, helping Gareth Southgate’s side reach the semi-finals of the tournament, with Lingard featuring in all but one game.