“He’s still in my plans. I expect him at Manchester Utd at the start of the season.”
Jesse Lingard came on against Derby County for Manchester United in a 2-1 pre-season victory for the Premier League side on Sunday afternoon.
Lingard impressed on the day, as he did for the second half of last season, which he spent on loan at West Ham.
He almost played his way into Gareth Southgate’s Euro 2020 squad, and unsurprisingly, West Ham want to sign him on a permanent basis.
But based on Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s latest comments, United won’t be letting Lingard go without a fight.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer on Jesse Lingard
After the match, he said: “He was one of the positives. He’s a Manchester United player and he wants to fight for his place.
“He’s come back bright, confident and with lots of energy. I think everyone saw what he did at the end of last season with West Ham.
“He’s still in my plans. I expect him at Man Utd at the start of the season.”
Where does Jesse Lingard fit in at United?
It is of course true that Lingard seriously impressed during his loan spell at West Ham, but this does not mean United should change their stance on the 28-year-old.
While the squad is not yet perfect, United now have a wealth of attacking talent at their disposal, and Lingard will not get in the team ahead of Paul Pogba, Bruno Fernandes, Jadon Sancho and Marcus Rashford. The player he is most like in the squad is Donny van de Beek, who was only used in the rarest of circumstances last season.
Before Bruno came to Manchester, United had little or no way of breaking down teams who sat back and defended. Even now, when the Portuguese talisman is having an off day, United can look lost. But between him, Sancho and Pogba, they have three players who should be able to create chances for fun. There is no way Lingard competes with any of them on that front.
Squad depth is important, but so is moving on players who are not necessary. He is also somewhat unlucky to be at a club where the manager insists on playing the best players every week, so long as they’re fit (and often in cases when they’re not).
Perhaps Solskjaer’s comments are simply an attempt to keep Lingard’s asking price high. United are one of the worst selling clubs in the world, and if holding out for £25 million for Lingard is going to change that, then maybe Ole feels it must be done.
But for too long, United have let deadwood sit on the bench and run up the club’s wage bill. Phil Jones and Sergio Romero are two of the most egregious recent cases, where neither have done anything on the pitch in years, while being paid enormous salaries.
Lingard does not bring enough to the starting XI to justify keeping him, when he is clearly in demand elsewhere. He needs to be let go.