Jesse Lingard
Jesse Lingard has signed for FC Seoul on a two-year deal after previously being a free agent. Phil Noble/Reuters

Former Manchester United star, Jesse Lingard, has joined South Korean side, FC Seoul, on a free transfer after being without a club since his contract expired at Nottingham Forest last summer.

Reports first came out about a potential move last week and now the Englishman has put pen to paper on a two-year deal with the K League 1 side, with a one-year extension option available to trigger. The move for Lingard comes ahead of the South Korean domestic season kicking off next month.

Playing for a club abroad will be a new experience for Lingard, but he is determined to make a name for himself at FC Seoul.

Speaking at his introductory press conference, the 31-year-old told reporters: "I'm very excited, it's a new challenge. I'm ready to embrace the culture and I just want to enjoy playing football again."

Lingard then revealed what was behind his decision to sign for the K League 1 club, saying: "When FC Seoul came into the equation the commitment that they showed, they flew to Manchester to watch me train and they came with the contract on paper."

The midfielder also confirmed that there were many other clubs vying for his signature. He said: "There was multiple offers but those were all verbal offers. FC Seoul showed how much they wanted me at the club, so it was only right for me to repay that."

Lingard's move to South Korea comes after a disappointing one-season spell with Nottingham Forest, where he failed to register a single goal or assist in his 17 Premier League games with the club. Injuries in the second half of the season meant he was unable to find consistency on the pitch and he was subsequently unable to break back into the starting 11.

He signed just a one-year deal with Nottingham Forest in July 2022, which many theorised was due to him visualising a successful season at the City Ground, before being able to be a free agent the following summer and have offers from multiple top clubs. That did not play out and Lingard was left in a tough spot as his career appeared to be at a crossroads.

Prior to signing with FC Seoul, Lingard spent time training with Saudi Pro League side, Al-Ettifaq, and even scored for the team in a friendly match. However, a deal for the Saudi club to permanently sign him fell through as the Englishman's wage demands were deemed too high and Al-Ettifaq had no space to register more foreign players.

Frustrated at not being able to land a contract with a new club, Lingard made the decision to sack his agents at the start of 2024. Among his previous set of representatives were members of his family.

The contract Lingard has signed with FC Seoul is reported to be worth £17,500 per week, which will make him the highest-paid player in South Korea's top division. This means the 31-year-old has taken a massive pay cut from his Nottingham Forest contract, as he was then earning over £100,000 per week.

FC Seoul are currently out on a training camp in Kagoshima, Japan, to get ready for the new season, with a friendly match against second-tier Japanese side, Roasso Kumamoto, scheduled for 14th February. Lingard will soon travel to the training camp to meet up with his new teammates and get adjusted to his new side.

It may take a while for Lingard to get back to full match fitness as he last featured in a competitive match 10 months ago. Also, the last time he was able to complete 90 minutes in a match was in August 2022.

FC Seoul will begin its domestic league campaign on 2nd March against Grangiu away from home.