Jesse Lingard will reluctantly push to leave Manchester United this month if he’s overlooked for Sunday’s Premier League clash at Southampton, according to a report.
Lingard enjoyed a fruitful loan spell with West Ham in the second half of last season, scoring nine goals. He has been a target for the club ever since as they aim to build upon last season’s sixth-place finish. Indeed, first-team coach Stuart Pearce recently opened up on the “open secret” of their intention to bring Lingard back.
Much of their chances, however, depend entirely on his situation at Manchester United. A Warrington-lad, Lingard has a lifetime affinity with the club and would be reluctant to leave.
However, his chances back with his parent club are still up for question.
The attacking midfielder scored one goal from three pre-season appearances. But he was absent for United’s season opener against Leeds after a recent positive test for Covid-19.
Lingard though is now back in training and pushing for action at St Mary’s this weekend. Indeed, he served a reminder of his talents with a goal in a behind-closed doors friendly against Burnley on Tuesday.
Now, according to The Times, Lingard is ready to push to leave if he’s not handed assurances over his playing time.
And while Ole Gunnar Solskjaer might look to ease his fears with words, it’s his team selections that will be key. Indeed, the report indicates that Lingard could ask to leave should he be overlooked for Sunday’s St Mary’s clash.
That though will represent a huge dilemma for Solskjaer. The Red Devils got their season off to the best possible start in beating Leeds 5-1. And key to that success was the excellent performance of hat-trick hero Bruno Fernandes.
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His presence in the United side means Lingard’s chances are going to be few and far between.
And with just a year left on his £100,000 a week deal, United know the best time to sell is now.
As it stands, United value Lingard at £25m – a fee West Ham are currently unprepared to match.
But the nearer the deadline gets, and should Lingard push to leave, it may leave United with little choice but to negotiate.
Gary Neville lets Lingard know the score
The situation Lingard faces in seeing Fernandes ahead of him was a scenario touched upon by Gary Neville.
Asked if he’s welcome Lingard back at Old Trafford, Neville had a blunt response.
“It depends on what grounds,” Neville told Sky Sports. “If Jesse wants to play, which he does want to play, you can see, then he’s going to need to leave.
“Because he’s not going to play every single week I suspect in a Manchester United team that’s trying to get to second or first in the league.
“But if he’s willing to go back there and compete and be a player like that, he could. Daniel James has come in for the last few weeks and he’s out of the team again. Does he want to be that type of player who’s a bit in and out?
“There’s no doubt he can play for Manchester United but he’d have to be in that role.”