Premier League / 6 January 2020, 08:00am / SAMI MOKBEL AND MATT HUGHES
Manchester United star Jesse Lingard is teaming up with super-agent Mino Raiola, Sportsmail understands.
The partnership is said to be part of the Italian agent’s wider strategy to establish links with more English players.
He already looks after the affairs of a number of foreign players playing in the Premier League.
News of the link-up is sure to raise eyebrows, given Raiola’s tempestuous relationship with United.
Sportsmail exclusively revealed on Saturday how United attempted to bypass Raiola in their efforts to sign Erling Haaland, who is represented by the agent, from Red Bull Salzburg. Haaland joined Dortmund last week.
United are aware that Raiola has taken charge of Lingard’s affairs and privately accept that the development may make it more difficult to keep hold of the England forward given their stormy relationship with Raiola.
But United have found their dealings with the agent beneficial in recent years, as Raiola has played a central role in some of the club’s most expensive transfers.
The 52-year-old facilitated his client Paul Pogba’s return to United from Juventus for a then world-record fee of
£89million in 2016. He also helped take the trio of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Romelu Lukaku to Old Trafford.
But Raiola’s public persona has irked certain members of the United hierarchy in recent months, particularly in relation to Pogba’s future at the club.
‘Pogba’s problem is Manchester United,’ Raiola said last week. ‘It’s a club out of touch with reality and without a sporting project.
‘I wouldn’t take anyone there, they would even ruin Maradona, Pele and Maldini. Paul needs a club and a squad, one like Juventus was before.’
Lingard’s alliance with him will raise certain questions about the midfielder’s future.
His deal expires at the end of next season, but there is understood to be an option for a further 12 months.
So his link-up with Raiola arrives at a timely point, with the time approaching for United to either extend his contract or listen to offers for their academy graduate.
The 27-year-old has spent his entire career at Old Trafford, emerging through the junior ranks to make close to 200 senior appearances for the club — as well as 24 appearances for England.
But having played a key role for England during their run to the World Cup semi-finals in 2018, Lingard’s loss of form has resulted in the midfielder, who has recently been linked with a move to Leicester City, losing his place in Gareth Southgate’s squad, adding to a view that he might need a fresh challenge to reinvigorate his career.