Jesse Lingard is reportedly ready to tell Ole Gunnar Solskjaer he is willing to stay at Manchester United next season – but only if he is guaranteed first-team football.
The 28-year-old found game time hard to come by under Solskjaer and was forced to leave on loan in January. His move to West Ham though has paid huge dividends. Lingard is in sensational form for the Hammers, notching five goals and two assists in seven Premier League outings.
His form is so impressive that it led to an England recall, with Lingard starting Thursday night’s 5-0 win over San Marino.
The attacking midfielder has been strongly tipped to join the Hammers in a permanent £15million deal this summer.
Now, according to ESPN, Lingard is reported to have told United he will glady return – but only if he’s offered a more regular role. With just a year left on his contract, the 28-year-old would also want an extension to that arrangement.
It leaves United and Solskjaer with something of a decision to make this summer. However, all hope is not lost for West Ham. United could yet to decide to cash in on the player. Furthermore, Solskjaer could also decide that, despite his rich form, he cannot be guaranteed a regular shirt.
As a No 10, Lingard faces the toughest possible competition in the form of Bruno Fernandes at Old Trafford.
Even Solskjaer has admitted it’s hard to accommodate him in their side due to the Portuguese’s fantastic form.
“It has really worked out for Jesse and for us as a club as well,” said Solskjaer.
“We know Jesse’s position is a 10 and we’ve got Bruno [Fernandes] there.
“For me, it was a no-brainer to get Jesse a chance to prove himself and play some football again. He has been really bright for them. He’s finally back to himself.”
It’s claimed that favouritism to Fernandes could yet force Lingard’s hand and see him try and force a permament move.
Lingard just wants to play football
Lingard himself admitted recently that he just wants to play regular football – be it at United or West Ham.
“During the lockdown, I recapped my best moments playing football – the season under Jose [Mourinho] where I scored all of those goals and went to the World Cup and the season when Ole came in and I started well,” Lingard told BT Sport.
“I started getting that fire in my belly and drive again to go and kick on. It would have been easy for me to fall off and take the easy option out.
“But a person like me who’s been through a lot and knows the game, I can’t just give it up like and I’ll always go out with a fight.
“I came back one of the strongest and fittest (in the Man Utd squad) after the lockdown. But then I didn’t get my chance that I was waiting on. But the whole time I was there and not playing I was doing extra training. I was keeping on top of my fitness for when the time was right.
“So for me, it’s about working hard and staying dedicated and I went back to basics.”