Jesse Lingard has defended his decision to sign for Nottingham Forest this summer and denied it was a move motivated by money.
The England midfielder has faced criticism over choosing to move to The City Ground ahead of West Ham, who were interested in bringing Lingard back to the London Stadium.
Punditry duo Jamie Carragher and Gary Neville have both stated that they think Lingard’s decision to sign for Forest was about the money, but the 29-year-old has hit back at the claims and said it was down to the love he was shown by the owners of the club.
Speaking to BBC’s Football Focus, the new Forest star said that he could have earned more money elsewhere, but wanted to stay in the Premier League.
‘There were lots of other options’. Lingard said.
‘I could have gone abroad for a lot of money but I want to stay in the Premier League.
‘I spoke to the owners and they showed that love. They wanted to come to my house, they wanted to come to London, all in quick succession to try and get the deal done.
‘When I see that sort of love, of course I’m going to say yeah.’
The former Manchester United player left Old Trafford this summer at the expiry of his contract and West Ham were keen to take the player back to East London, where he enjoyed a successful loan stint in 2021.
However, instead Lingard penned a one-year, £80,000 per-week contract at Nottingham Forest, which could rise to £120,000 in potential bonuses.
It’s a move that Liverpool legend Carragher believes was all about the money and slammed Lingard on Part Two of the Overlap Live Fan Debate.
‘He [Jesse Lingard] went there [Nottingham Forest] for the money. I love Nottingham Forest, that they are back [in the Premier League].
‘If any footballer is picking Nottingham Forest right now, before West Ham and what they’ve done in the last two or three years, they’ve obviously gone there for a few quid. And, the fact that he’s only signed for a year means that next year on a free or Bosman [ruling].
Fellow pundit Gary Neville was equally critical of the former Red Devils star, calling the signing ‘transactional’ and fears the move might not end well.
‘It just felt really transactional [Lingard signing for Nottingham Forest].
‘Football fans, when it comes down to it, later in the year, if Jesse started to be linked four or five months in with where he’s going to go next year – it won’t end well.
‘Fans don’t like transactional stuff like that. They are happy to play the game. They [Nottingham Forest] could have shaped it a different way. Two years [on a contract] and if we go down, a little clause in the contract that says you can leave on a free.’
‘Jesse could have been clever. Reputationally, he’s taken a hit. He could have signed a two-year deal where he leaves at the end of the season – if they go down – for free.’
Forest have been busy in the transfer market this summer, adding eleven more new faces to their capture of Lingard, as they embark on their first Premier League campaign since 1999.