Earlier this season it was reported Manchester United were still hoping to persuade Jesse Lingard to sign a new contract after he turned down an earlier extension offer (MEN).
The timing was mid-September, and Lingard was determined to keep his options open rather than just take the easy option and sign the contract.
At that stage Lingard had not started any of United’s opening four Premier League games, one of which he was not available for.
Having scored once from the bench in the win over Newcastle, there was reason for Lingard to be optimistic that his luck was about to turn.
Lingard is still waiting
11 games into the season and Lingard is still waiting for his first Premier League start of the campaign.
It is a terrible way to mismanage a player who came back to United with a spring in his step after a successful loan, and scored two goals from the bench in his opening four league substitute appearances this season.
Bruno Fernandes is in Lingard’s path and he is the top creative player in the Premier League this season, but he is not perfect, sometimes erratic, and every player needs rest and rotation. Lingard needs to play.
Lingard has subsequently lost his place in the England squad after playing just 18 minutes of football between the October and November breaks.
Worryingly, Lingard did not make an appearance in either Champions League match against Atalanta despite United being permitted to use five substitutes.
The worst part of that for Lingard was that it was his assist which set up Ronaldo for the winner against Villarreal.
Why would Lingard want to stay?
Lingard must be sick of the way he has been treated this season, and understandably so.
Solskjaer has taken him right back to square one, where he was a year ago.
United have given him no reason to want to sign his contract extension, from both a career perspective with a view on the World Cup next year, and in the case of a general week to week satisfaction.
Meanwhile Lingard must look across to former loan club West Ham and wonder whether they should be his next move after all.
West Ham are now above United in the table, sitting as high as third place after an excellent start to the season.
With Lingard scoring United’s winner over the Hammers in September, the table could look very different had he made the switch in the summer.
The decision to stay and fight for his place was admirable, and United don’t owe him anything, technically, but considering the club want him to sign a new deal, the way he has been treated this season has been desperately poor.
Clubs will try to tempt Lingard away in January, and United may have to cash in.
And letting him go to West Ham would be helping out a club who are now a top four rival.
Considering his contract situation and the loyalty he has given the club, United may have little choice but to accept an offer, if that is where Lingard decides he wants to go.
He would surely be a lot happier there than on United’s bench.
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