Jesse Lingard has been at the club since he was a boy rising up through the academy before making his Manchester United debut on the 16 August 2014. It’s not been an easy ride for Lingard since making his debut, as he’s struggled with personal issues which have hindered his on-field form. He’s 28 years of age now, which statistically means he’s entering or is in his prime years and so if Lingard wants to take that step further in his career these years are vital to doing so.
Lingard’s January loan move to West Ham United was very successful with him scoring nine goals and assisting five in just sixteen Premier League games. He even won player of the month for April which is a testament to his huge rise in form since his loan move. Now back at United, with just a matter of days left in the transfer window should he stay, go out on loan, or leave United permanently.
Lingard has a lot of qualities that could help the team this upcoming season and would provide quality squad depth in the number 10 role. His best feature is his work rate and energy. Throughout the ninety minutes Lingard never stops running, he’s always trying to find and create space as well as pressing the opposition. This high intensity makes him harder to mark as he’s constantly wearing out the defence.
Furthermore, he’s also very strong at picking the ball up in the pockets and taking it on the half turn and driving with it. Although a seemingly simple trait, it proves very effective as it can bypass the midfield practically putting them out of the attack increasing your chances of scoring. Despite not managing a single goal or assist in 2019, when Lingard is at his best, he’s a potent threat offensively with the ability to get goals or create them.
He may not be as technically gifted as Bruno Fernandes, but Lingard brings that ability to beat a man and has been highly effective for United in bigger games scoring in multiple cup finals. Off the field he’s also an immense presence as he lifts the spirits in the dressing room and around the club as he’s a great personality who brings the best out of others.
This can be highly effective as it keeps spirits high amongst the players and helps maintain unity which can faulter if the team struggles and thus due to this togetherness off the field it creates a stronger bond on the field and that’ll help the team perform better.
The main problem Lingard has is Bruno Fernandes. He’s arguably the most irreplaceable player in this United team and has been for over a year now. His incredible goals and assists record backed up by his overall effect on the United team with everything creative going through him makes him difficult to lodge. For Lingard to get in the team he’ll have to outperform Fernandes which could prove incredibly difficult.
Having just had a remarkable loan with West Ham, Lingard won’t be looking to go back to sitting on the bench again and will want first team football but staying at United could hinder this. Unless Fernandes gets an injury, his chances of playing often are very slim and this could set him back months again. With the World Cup looming, the occasional cup game here and there with bench appearances won’t satisfy Lingard or Gareth Southgate. Without Lingard this United squad wouldn’t be too different.
He rarely got minutes before his loan and is unlikely to get many after and thus letting him go wouldn’t hinder United too much. So, for Lingard to progress his career I feel he must leave United at least on loan if not permanently.
Financially, with the club still looking to bring in a midfielder with the likes of Eduardo Camavinga, Saul Niguez and Ruben Neves being mentioned, offloading Lingard now would provide valuable funds to potentially pursue these targets. Due to his marketability being a nearing prime years English midfielder, his value would be high and could fetch United between £18-25 million. If he was loaned it would likely only be a small loan fee that wouldn’t contribute much to raising these funds and would likely mean United can’t get that all important midfielder before the end of the transfer window.
For Lingard, he’ll want to make sure his next step isn’t a step down and so with the emergence of West Ham recently, he might look to get a permanent move there. Across Europe there would be plenty of teams interested but being an English boy it’s unlikely he’ll want to go abroad. This narrows his permanent move options down which could result in Lingard being loaned out again.
Overall, I feel for United and Lingard’s sake he should be allowed to leave in some form. Preferably a permanent move away but with such little time left a loan deal would suit both parties. As an extra incentive, United could look to use an option to buy clause which could be triggered if Lingard performs to the level he did at West Ham. The main thing for Lingard is to get first team football and at United he isn’t promised that but he’s a quality footballer and deserves to play and thus should be let go either on loan or preferably on a permanent transfer.
Written by Ethan Bents