Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer offered a surprise update on Jesse Lingard at the weekend.
Solskjaer suggested Lingard could stay next season, telling the club website: “Jesse has come back, he’s been bright and he wants to fight for his place.”
As we noted yesterday, Solskjaer’s comments should be treated with caution. He has a record of making misleading comments on the futures of his players, see Chris Smalling and Alexis Sanchez.
But what if Lingard did stay put? How would it work and who would be effected?
The first thing to note is that a reported shift to a 4-3-3 formation as opposed to a 4-2-3-1 is less likely to suit Lingard.
He could come on towards the end of games as United push forward and shift back to a 4-2-3-1, but as a starter, Lingard could be out of luck if The Telegraph‘s claims about a new formation prove to be correct.
On the basis Lingard is sticking around, then three United players are negatively affected…
It’s possible Juan Mata’s new contract would have been agreed anyway, but you would assume United sanctioned this extension on the probable likelihood Lingard would leave.
Last season Lingard began behind Mata in the pecking order, and even if this has changed, he still has to fight for the scraps of minutes left over by Bruno Fernandes.
Mata is clearly content with a limited role as he renewed rather than pushing for a regular place elsewhere, but his game time could be even more limited if Lingard stays.
Donny van de Beek
Van de Beek’s first season at Old Trafford did not go at all as planned. Lingard staying complicates it.
It is fair that a 4-3-3 formation suits Van de Beek more than Lingard, but the latter would be staying on the basis he gets a fair shot.
Opportunities behind Fernandes in an attacking role are limited and Van de Beek could easily get outperformed by Lingard if the academy star’s West Ham loan is anything to go by.
Desperate to break through and impact the first team, wonderkid Hannibal needs players to leave to smooth his path. Lingard staying put does not help him.
The extra competition could push Hannibal to look for a loan, which might be a positive for him.
Hannibal did experiment by shifting position to wide left at times for the under-23s last season and while that counts in his favour, the competition for attacking spots is certainly more crowded if Lingard stays along with Mata.
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