Jesse Lingard raised some eyebrows towards the end of this summer’s transfer window when a move away from Manchester United looked increasingly unlikely.
The 28-year-old was the subject of extensive interest from West Ham but despite the London club’s willingness to bring him back, Lingard ended up rejecting the chance to rejoin David Moyes’ side in favour of an extended stay at Old Trafford.
Gary Neville criticised Lingard for the decision to stay at United last week and former Scotland manager Alex McLeish has now admitted he is ‘surprised’ that Lingard hasn’t left.
“Unless he totally excels in Ole’s eyes, I can’t see him being a fixture in the team,” he told Football Insider. “It’s a bit like James going to Leeds. He will do what Lingard did, and flourish away from the massive pressure and expectation a club like Man United brings.
“Man United are looking to win the league and challenge in Europe as they did under Sir Alex Ferguson. To do that you need the world-class temperament and mentality – and that can be what stifles players. Lingard went away and the pressure was off, he played with total freedom at West Ham.
“I’m really surprised Lingard hasn’t moved. It could be a sticky few months ahead without any football action. How is he going to get in that team?”
Lingard enjoyed a stellar half-season with West Ham last season, scoring nine goals and assisting a further four in just 16 Premier League appearances for the Hammers.
After being included in Gareth Southgate’s initial 33-man squad for Euro 2020, the midfielder impressed in pre-season and is now set to stay at United. Lingard has just one year remaining on his contract but he could still sign an extension.