Manchester United midfielder Jesse Lingard is now expected to remain at Old Trafford this summer despite continued speculation over an imminent exit.
The 28-year-old has been linked with a variety of clubs in the current window after a string of outstanding performances on loan as West Ham United in the second half of last season but is now set to stay put.
He said: “Manchester United are looking at Lingard as a genuine player for the squad….the noises are that he’s going to stay.”
Following an impressive 2017/28 campaign for United, which concluded with Lingard scoring one goal and providing two assists in three appearances as England reached the 2018 World Cup semi-finals, Lingard badly struggled for form.
Over the next two seasons, the versatile forward started just 28 Premier League fixtures for the Red Devils, contributing to just eight goals as the Jose Mourinho era made way for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s rejuvenation project.
However, a short-term loan move to West Ham halfway through 2020/21 sparked Lingard into life again in dramatic fashion.
In just 16 top-flight outings for the Hammers, the England international put the ball in the back of the net on nine occasions, laying on a further five assists for his teammates, playing a pivotal part as the capital club qualified for the Europa League.
With only one year remaining on his current deal and talk of United needing to raise funds for a new defensive midfielder, Lingard had been tipped to wave his boyhood club goodbye on a permanent basis in the current window.
Now though, that prospect looks extremely unlikely, and the sudden U-turn is something that United supporters should be buzzing about.
Key attacker Marcus Rashford is set for a three-month spell on the sidelines after deciding to undergo surgery for a long-term shoulder injury, leaving Solskjaer without one of his star performers until at least October.
And while Dan James has also worked extremely hard when given the chance to impress, the Wales international has, so far, been unable to show the quality required to make a difference at the highest level.
Lingard, on the other hand, has produced big moments on the biggest of stages. He’s a ready-made replacement for the absent Rashofrd, and his form for West Ham shows he’s now back to his best.
United’s decision to keep him around for another season could prove to be a very astute one by Solskjaer, who is developing a solid reputation for his work in the transfer market.