The 28-year-old enjoyed an impressive loan stint at West Ham this year but has sacrificed a golden opportunity to secure regular first-team football by not forcing an Old Trafford exit
Jesse Lingard has rejected a new contract at Manchester United to leave both player and club with the worst possible outcome.
The England international starred on loan at West Ham United in the second half of last campaign by netting nine goals in 16 appearances but now faces a campaign on the sidelines.
It was widely expected that the 28-year-old would secure a permanent exit from Old Trafford this summer with his stock high – having demonstrated he could star in the Premier League in the right system.
Yet no move materialised and now Lingard – who scored twice for Gareth Southgate’s side in last week’s win over Andorra – faces a season without first-team football.
United are extremely well-stocked in the attacking positions in which Lingard operates – Bruno Fernandes, Paul Pogba and Donny van de Beek are all above him in the pecking order in the advanced midfield roles.
In attack, both Jadon Sancho and Cristiano Ronaldo arrived this summer with Mason Greenwood and Marcus Rashford providing depth in areas which Lingard can operate.
There was little logic in Lingard’s reported insistence to stay at Old Trafford this summer, even if the club’s valuation priced him out of a quick transfer solution.
An England international in the prime years of his career must prioritise regular playing time and it was evident this would not be forthcoming at United with the options available to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
Lingard started just nine Premier League matches in the 2019/20 campaign under the Norwegian and went 17 months without scoring a league goal or registering a direct assist.
Last season, Lingard’s role was virtually non-existent as he did not feature at all in the Premier League prior to his loan switch to West Ham – and this was before United continued to invest in their attacking options.
Of course, United could and should have invested more energy into securing a sale this summer even if this meant compromising on his transfer valuation.
Not only would it have helped the club rebalance their transfer books after a heavy outlay this summer, but it would have saved on Lingard’s £75,000-per-week wages – which would have freed up just shy of £4million for the campaign.
That may even have allowed United to invest in a holding midfielder in which they are lacking and prove the difference in a title race – the club’s lack of ruthlessness on this issue may cost them.
Should Jesse Lingard have forced a move from Old Trafford this summer? Comment below
Yet Lingard must take responsibility for the situation; he should have helped forced the club’s hand and reiterated his desire to play regularly.
Trevor Sinclair declared on talkSPORT: “If he doesn’t get given them assurances and sign a new deal, then that says he’s not ambitious as a player.
“I’m slightly confused that he didn’t want to sign for West Ham permanently.
“He was loved there and was the main man. He played one time for Manchester United in 2021 but played 16 times for West Ham and got into double figures for goals and back in the England squad.
“Why would you not want to be in that environment?”
Lingard is now in a situation where he is unlikely to play more than a handful of prominent matches this season while United have a non-essential drain on their resources.
The player’s refusal to sign a contract extension now opens up the possibility to him leaving as a free agent next year which would signify another missed financial opportunity for United.
The United youth product has missed a golden opportunity to establish his place in the England squad ahead of next year’s World Cup and is unlikely to improve whilst not playing.
The January transfer window will offer a fresh opportunity for both United and Lingard to learn this lesson and secure a deal which will produce only winners.
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