Southgate delivers verdict on England's big win over Andorra
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Jesse Lingard’s performance against Andorra on Sunday evening certainly caught the attention of many. The Englishman was energetic, creative and a constant threat against the sub-par opposition, and his display may leave Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer scratching his head as to what to do with him.
Lingard scored twice and assisted another in a Man of the Match display, continuing his good form from the end of last season.
After the appointment of Solskjaer, the 28-year-old’s form dipped and he fell out of favour at the club so was consequently sent out on loan to West Ham for the second half of the campaign.
In London, Lingard turned it around and had a newfound confidence, he scored nine and assisted four in 16 appearances for the Hammers as he helped David Moyes’ side to Europa League football.
But after not selling Lingard in the summer yet bringing in Cristiano Ronaldo and Jadon Sancho, Solskjaer may not know what to do with the versatile forward.
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Lingard’s contract at Old Trafford runs out in 2022 and he is yet to agree on an extension, with many assuming that he may wait to see how many opportunities he gets for the Red Devils in the opening months of this season before putting pen to paper.
There was interest from West Ham over the summer to sign him on a permanent deal, however, Solskjaer was adamant that Lingard was part of his plans for the 2021/22 season.
Speaking to the club website in July, the Norwegian said: “There’s nothing better than seeing players willing to fight for their place. Of course, what he did towards the end of the season, that is the true Jesse.
“That’s what we know he is capable of. I think we saw towards the end [of United’s season] that we lacked maybe some options at times. He’s still in my plans. I expect him at Man Utd at the start of the season.”
However, Lingard looked far better than a player that should succumb to sitting on the bench on Sunday.
An important factor in his decision to stay or go will be whether he believes he has the opportunity to impress Gareth Southgate whilst at United, especially considering he was not in the 25-man squad for EURO 2020 and the 2022 World Cup is on the horizon.
Before the game against Andorra, United legend Roy Kean was asked whether Lingard is in ‘no man’s land’, to which he replied: “That’s the exactly the words I would use.
“It’s been difficult, you thought he’d get a move. But he’s got to get his head down at Man Utd, Gareth obviously likes him, he’s had him in the squad a couple of times.
“It’s another opportunity for Jesse to get 90 minutes under his belt and maybe score a goal because he’s a good player, he just needs to play regularly.”
Ian Wright then added: “One thing I would say is that if he’s going to stay at United and he becomes a free agent next season there will be a lot of people that want him it just depends on how the season goes.
“It’s a long time away [the end of the season] when you’ve been there that long and the opportunity comes as a free agent you never know.
“At the moment what we know is he’s working his socks off.”
If Solskjaer decides that he doesn’t see Lingard having a future at the Theatre of Dreams then he may opt to cash in on him in the January transfer window, which will be the last opportunity to get a fee for him if he does not sign a contract extension.
West Ham won’t be the only clubs interested in him though, and Lingard is capable of making his mark for any club in and around the European spots who are looking for a creative spark.
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