Jesse Lingard has hit the ground running at West Ham since his loan move from Manchester United in January.
Lingard hadn’t made a single Premier League appearance all season, with three cup outings the extent of his involvement at Old Trafford.
But David Moyes immediately integrated into his Hammers side, handing him a full debut at Aston Villa – the first game for which he was available.
Lingard returning to ‘levels he’s capable of’ at West Ham
Speaking on Sky Sports’ Pitch to Post preview podcast, journalist Ron Walker admitted he thought the signing was ‘strange’ at the time.
Lingard is versatile – he can operate on either wing or play centrally – but West Ham appeared ‘well-blessed’ in those areas with the likes of Manuel Lanzini, Pablo Fornals, Andriy Yarmolenko, Said Benrahama and Jarrod Bowen already on their books.
Perhaps a striker was the anticipated priority after Sebastien Haller’s £22.5million move to Ajax.
But it’s fair to say any doubts about the wisdom of their approach have been dismissed.
Lingard even secured a return to Gareth Southgate’s England squad this week.
“It’s been an incredible two months for him,” Walker said. “It looked a bit of a strange signing at the time in that West Ham were already quite well-blessed in that area and you thought ‘if you’re going to spend money, perhaps it would be better to do it elsewhere.
“But now, two months on, a player of Jesse Lingard’s quality is getting back to the levels that he’s capable of, which was by no means guaranteed
“It’s looking like a masterstroke.”
Lingard return boost for Arsenal clash
Lingard was ineligible to face his parent club last weekend, and West Ham fell to a meek 1-0 defeat in his absence.
But he is set to return against Arsenal on Sunday and he will look to help his side move level on points with fourth-placed Chelsea.
“They’ll be even more confident having him and the other West Ham attacking outlets [going] at that Arsenal defence,” Walker added.
It will be interesting to see whether Manchester United are willing to make Lingard’s loan exit permanent in the summer.
He has just over one year left on his contract and both parties may consider his £13.5million Transfermarkt valuation reasonable.