Publicly at least, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has refused to close the door on a potential way back for Jesse Lingard at Manchester United.
“We want Jesse to come back here revitalised and having shown at West Ham how good a player he is,” he said, shortly before his switch was confirmed.
“He’s just been unfortunate with a couple of issues, some periods he had to stay away from us with COVID, isolation and close contact.
“[The] rest of the team has done well, little to no injuries, not forced his way into the team, come back and show he’s a Manchester United player through and through.”
After struggling for gametime under Solskjaer, Lingard has looked revitalised in East London, scoring three times in four games and playing with the sense of fun that endeared him to so many in the first place.
And according to the Times, Solskjaer’s insistence that the 28-year-old still has a chance with his boyhood club, is rooted in fact.
The report claims that United bosses refused to insert any buyout clause into the deal that saw Lingard join the Hammers last month.
It means that if the midfielder can continue in his rich vein of form, David Moyes’ side would need to negotiate a transfer fee at the end of the season.
Lingard has just one-year left on his current deal with United, so in all likelihood, a decision will need to be made on his long-term future, before the 2021/22 season kicks off.
West Ham skipper Declan Rice has made it clear that he wants the club to secure Lingard’s future, labelling a ‘ridiculously top player’.
Speaking after the win over Tottenham, which moved the Hammers into the top four, he said: “Hopefully we can do that for much longer, for next season as well,” Rice said. “He has got a great personality, and the lads have really taken to him.
“He is a ridiculously top player. I knew this from when I played with him with England. He takes the ball on the half-turn, takes the ball in tight areas and relieves the pressure. When you give him the ball on the pitch you know he is going to do something with it.”
Lingard previously hinted that he felt he wasn’t given a fair chance by Solskjaer at points last season…he may yet have one more opportunity to impress.