Lingard continues his transformation into mature, effective central midfielder

Watching Kevin de Bruyne play a major part in eliminating Brazil from World Cup 2018 from an advanced position reminded the planet that, before Pep Guardiola came along, the Belgian was a number 10.

The Catalan manager transformed the playmaker’s role at Manchester City, making him something of a roaming player in a 4-3-3, dictating games from deep but bursting forward to pick up goals and assists.

With England, Gareth Southgate has overseen a similar positional shift with Jesse Lingard. The Manchester United ace has spent his entire career as a winger or a number 10, but plays in a ‘number 8’ position for the Three Lions now.

Against Sweden, Lingard set up Dele Alli’s crucial second goal and buzzed around once more from deeper areas, taking four shots and making the same number of dribbles.


In a game that never truly got going, Lingard showed his maturity with an incredibly accurate passing display. 94 per cent of his efforts found the target as England saw the game out with relative ease.

Essentially, Lingard is performing like the player Paul Pogba is supposed to be, and if Jose Mourinho sticks with 4-3-3 at Old Trafford next season, the Englishman could reasonably hope to fill one of the playmaker roles, in the same way de Bruyne does across the city.