Solskjaer suggests surprise Lingard twist; explains how to deal with Ronaldo attention

Date published: Thursday 16th September 2021 4:01 - Samuel Bannister

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has hinted that Jesse Lingard could sign a new contract with Manchester United as he prepares to return to West Ham.

Lingard revived his career on loan at West Ham in the second half of last season after previously falling off the radar at Man Utd. But a permanent transfer never materialised, leaving Solskjaer with the task of reintegrating him. He has given the attacking midfielder three substitute appearances so far this season.

Lingard did not repay his faith in the most recent of those games; he made an error that led to Young Boys beating United in their Champions League opener. But Solskjaer has since suggested that the England international could play against his old club this weekend regardless.

Currently sitting top of the table, Man Utd travel to face West Ham on Sunday. It will be a battle between two sides yet to taste defeat this season.

If Lingard is to feature, it would be an emotional occasion for a player still tipped to return to the London Stadium in a claret and blue shirt at some point. But Solskjaer is in no doubt as to where Lingard’s loyalties lie for the long-term.

Although the 28-year-old is out of contract at the end of the season, Solskjaer has hinted they will be looking to keep him beyond them.

He told his pre-match press conference for the West Ham game: “He’s got one year left on his contract and of course the club is talking to him and his dad. We see him as a Man Utd player in the future as well.

“Jesse has come back into us after a great spell at West Ham; he showed his qualities, he’s back into the England squad, scoring goals.

“We really want to see the best of Jesse this season. We support him and we hope to keep him here with us. He’s a red through and through.”

While Lingard may have hopes of playing a part against West Ham, one player who will not feature is Edinson Cavani.

The Uruguay international faces a battle to keep his place up front this season after the return of Cristiano Ronaldo. Like Lingard, Cavani has only featured off the bench so far this term.

Solskjaer provided an update on the striker’s fitness and backed him to play a big role again this season.

He said: “Edinson hopefully will start training with us after the weekend, maybe Monday, so maybe involved on Wednesday. He had a fantastic season last season, the impact he made when he got his fitness, he struggles with niggly injuries early on.

“We feel that to get the best out of him this season we need to get him 100% fit and not rush him. We’ve got a strong squad that will cope with having to let players heal and not risk any further injuries.

“I see Edinson having a massive impact. He’s that type of personality and player. He can’t wait to play and he’s working really hard to get back on the pitch.”

Solskjaer belives United settling with Ronaldo

The main competition for Cavani now is obviously Ronaldo, who has scored in each of his two appearances since returning to the club.

The five-time Ballon d’Or winner always generates plenty of attention and there was a huge buzz when it became clear he was heading back to Manchester – and landing on the red rather than blue side to alleviate United’s fears of the unthinkable.

Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates scoring against Newcastle. September 11 2021.

After he signed a two-year contract with the option of a longer stay, United will have to get used to the presence of Ronaldo and the focus it has brought.

But Solskjaer believes the squad are settling down after the arrival of the all-time great.

The Norwegian said: “Life is normal. We’ve signed a good player. There’s always lots of attention around Cristiano. He copes with it and the players get on with their job.

“It was a big occasion against Newcastle with the excitement of the crowd and I thought we did really well and handed the crowd and, of course, Cristiano delivered.”

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