Ex-Man United star Jesse Lingard arrives in Korea to finalize shock deal with FC Seoul

English football player Jesse Lingard waves to fans after arriving at Incheon International Airport, west of Seoul, Feb. 5. Yonhap

Former Manchester United midfielder and English international Jesse Lingard arrived in Korea to great fanfare Monday, as he prepares to finalize a stunning deal with the K League 1 side FC Seoul this week. Lingard landed at Incheon International Airport, west of Seoul, late Monday afternoon and was immediately greeted by dozens of adoring fans shouting his name. Sporting a black cap on top of a hoodie and sweat pants in the same color, Lingard signed a few autographs and took some selfies, before security guards ushered him into a waiting van. Lingard did not stop to speak to media. Hours earlier, he had posted a photo on his Instagram page showing his luggage outside a boarding gate at Heathrow Airport in London, before boarding a Korean Air flight bound for Incheon. Lingard is scheduled to undergo a physical with FC Seoul before signing his contract.

If all goes well, Lingard, 31, will likely be introduced at a press conference in Seoul on Thursday. He would instantly become the biggest international player to join the top Korean league. Last week, English media reported that Lingard was close to joining FC Seoul on a two-year deal with an option for a third season. The Korean club acknowledged Friday they had been in talks with Lingard, though nothing was finalized at that point .Lingard has been without a club since leaving Nottingham Forest last summer. He began his club career with Man United in 2011 and spent 11 seasons there. He signed for Forest in 2022 following their promotion to the Premier League. Lingard’s best season with Man United came in 2017-18, when he netted 13 goals in 48 matches in all competitions. He never again scored in double figures in England. Lingard also had loan stints with Leicester City, Birmingham City, Brighton & Hove Albion, Derby County and West Ham United.

He has collected 32 caps for England, including six matches during the country’s run to the semifinals at the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia. He has scored six goals for his national team. Earlier this season, Lingard trained with West Ham United, for whom he scored nine goals in 16 matches on a loan during the 2020-2021 season, and also spent time training with the Saudi Arabian club Al-Ettifaq. He has reportedly drawn offers from Saudi Arabia and Turkey. FC Seoul hired former Pohang Steelers head coach Kim Gi-dong as their new bench boss for the upcoming season, seeking a turnaround after spending the past four seasons stuck in mediocrity in the K League 1.After finishing in third place among 12 clubs in 2019, FC Seoul ranked ninth, seventh, ninth and seventh over the next four campaigns .In 2023, though, they were the biggest draw in the K League 1, attracting just over 430,000 fans in their 19 home matches. They became the first K League 슬롯게이밍 1 club on record to draw over 400,000 spectators in a season.

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