Jesse Lingard has completed a surprise move to South Korean side FC Seoul.
The former Manchester United winger has signed a two-year deal with the option to add a third with the K League 1 side.
The 31-year-old England International, who was released from his contract at Nottingham Forest at the end of last season, had offers from as many as 26 clubs from around the world, including FC Seoul and Lazio.
The news was confirmed on Instagram on Wednesday, with Lingard posting a photo of himself wearing an FC Seoul jersey while writing: ‘New beginnings! So excited to finally get back on the pitch and do what I love the most.
‘I’m so grateful for the love and support in South Korea, @FC Seoul.’
Reports earlier this week stated that Lingard could be in line to earn around £17,500 per week, which equates to £910,000 per year. Lingard had signed a contract renewal at Man United in 2017 that saw him net £ 100,000 per week.
But his reported salary sees him become the highest-paid player in the K League. He will now join the team’s winter training camp in Kagoshima.
Appearing in a separate video on the club’s Instagram, the ex-Man United forward said: ‘My dream from a young child was to play in the Premier League and I’ve always worked hard to achieve that goal. I’ve always wanted different challenges to create new memories in my career and I believe being in South Korea is the place for that. Jesse Lingard is in FC Seoul.’
Speaking in a press conference, Lingard said: ‘I’m very excited. It’s a new challenge. I’ve accepted it, I’m here and I’m ready to embrace the culture.
It’s a new beginning for me, a new chapter in my career. I just want to enjoy playing football again, putting a smile on people’s faces, and showing Korean fans what I can do
The former Man United forward also revealed that he ‘had multiple offers’ over the past seven months. He added: ‘When FC Seoul came into the equation, the commitment that they showed, they came to Manchester to watch me train.
‘They came with the contract on paper so I think the commitment shown by the club really in my mind, I had already made up where I wanted to go because, as I say, there were multiple offers, they were all verbal offers, but the commitment shown by FC Seoul showed how much interest and how much they wanted me at the club so it was only right for me to repay that and come to the club.’
In a statement on the club’s website, FC Seoul wrote: ‘This is enough news to capture the eyes and ears of Korean soccer fans as it is a challenge for the K League by a player with the highest name value in the 41-year history of the K League.
‘FC Seoul as a leading club in the K League, has been taking the lead in recruiting big names with both skill and popularity and has been consistently making impactful attempts that will lead not only to the success of the K League but also to the development of Korean soccer.
‘This recruitment was accomplished as a surprise as the future-oriented vision and goals of both FC Seoul and Lingard coincided.’