Why ex-West Ham star Jesse Lingard has signed FC Seoul - wage and 'off-field' interests revealed

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The ex-Hammers star could be the highest K-League earner if reports are true

After several days of speculation, Jesse Lingard has signed a deal which will see his eight-month absence from the pitch finally at an end. Lingard has been out of action since his Nottingham Forest contract ended at the end of last season but after recent speculation, the 31-year-old has now signed with the K-League club FC Seoul on a two-year deal with an option for one further year.

The ex-West Ham star said he received "many offers" but decided he wanted a new football experience in South Korea which, according to reports from the Evening Standard, include branching out into his off-field interests such as Esports, fashion and restaurant businesses.

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It was also reported, however, that the midfielder had grown frustrated with the lack of Premier League interest and had sacked his agents last month - the Hammers being one such club to be reluctant to re-sign the 32-time England international.

Lingard celebrates scoring for the Hammers in 2020/21 seasonLingard celebrates scoring for the Hammers in 2020/21 season
Lingard celebrates scoring for the Hammers in 2020/21 season

Speaking in a YouTube video after the announcement, the former Manchester United academy graduate said: "I've always wanted a different challenge and to create new memories in my career. I believe South Korea is the perfect place for that."

Lingard also added that FC Seoul's determination to sign him prior to the transfer becoming public knowledge on deadline day in England was an additional reason. "FC Seoul showed me great passion", Lingard added, "sending me a concrete off on paper while other clubs were contacting me verbally. They also came to Manchester to check my physical condition as well."

Korea's leading news outlets, Chosun Ilbo and Korea JoongAng Daily (via DailyMail) have reported that Lingard will likely become the highest-paid player in the K-League and is set to earn £17,500 per week (£910,000/year). While this is still a huge payday, it is a far cry from his 2017 Manchester United contract which saw him on £100,000 a week.

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When referencing his off-pitch interests, the England international said: "I'll focus on football. my personal business is nothing to do with football. The most important thing to me is football."

31-year-old Lingard made his first team debut with Manchester United under Louis van Gaal in August 2014 and would go on to make 232 appearances for the Red Devils, scoring 35 goals. He spent half a season on loan with the Hammers, playing 16 games, scoring nine and assisting five goals.

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