‘Jesse is still an important part of this squad’: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer reveals he has not been ‘very closely’ involved in Lingard’s contract talks – and Man United boss says wantaway star is ‘disappointed he’s not played more’
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer insists Jesse Lingard is still an important part of his squad despite the wantaway star stalling on signing a new contract.
The Manchester United playmaker’s contract expires at the end of the season and Sportsmail reported on Thursday that the 28-year-old wants to leave the club on loan in January before departing on a free transfer next summer.
Yet Solskjaer – who is under pressure after a poor run of results – spoke ahead of United’s clash at Watford on Saturday that Lingard was still valued at Old Trafford though revealed he has not been ‘very closely’ involved in contract negotiations.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer insists Jesse Lingard is still an important part of his Man United squad
Lingard has just months left on his current deal and has rejected talks over signing a new one
‘Jesse is training really hard, really well, and he’s ready and available for me,’ Solskjaer said.
‘He’s disappointed he’s not played more… Jesse is still a important part of this squad, he gives energy to the group every day.’
He will be able to leave as a free agent in the summer and can open talks with foreign clubs from January 1 having already attracted strong interest from Barcelona and AC Milan. A representative from Lingard’s camp is thought to have travelled to Spain for talks with clubs last week.
United rebuffed enquiries from six teams last summer and Lingard stayed at Old Trafford after he was given assurances over more playing time by manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
An exit would end a 22-year association with the Red Devils but Lingard wants regular football
However, he has made just one start – in the Carabao Cup against West Ham in September – and spent more time on the pitch for England than he has for United.
Lingard’s opportunities have been limited by the summer signings of Cristiano Ronaldo and Jadon Sancho, and he is said to be particularly upset that Daniel James was picked ahead of him at the start of the season even though the Wales winger was about to join Leeds United for £30million.
Lingard has scored twice in his five Premier League appearances as a substitute this term, continuing the impressive form that brought nine goals and six assists in 16 league games for West Ham.
The 28-year-old midfielder is desperate to play at Qatar 2022 after missing out on the Euros
He was at fault when United conceded a late goal to Young Boys in the Champions League, but made amends by coming on to set up Ronaldo’s winner in the next Group F tie against Villarreal.
However, the lack of game time for United – 154 minutes in total compared to 169 minutes for England – cost him a place in Gareth Southgate’s squad for the recent World Cup qualifiers against Albania and San Marino.
Lingard is desperate to play at Qatar 2022 after missing out on the Euros, and has come to the conclusion that leaving United in search of regular first-team football is the only option.