Jesse Lingard insists he has “never doubted” his ability and sent a reminder to Manchester United that he wants “regular” gametime next season.
Lingard’s resurgence in 2020-21 was one of the stories of the season. He began the campaign frozen out at Man Utd, until he left on loan for West Ham in January. It was a perfect match, as the midfielder stunned the Premier League with nine goals and four assists from 16 games.
His return to form was acknowledged with the award of Premier League player of the month in April 2021.
Now, with his West Ham spell over, the focus has turned to Lingard’s permanent future. Only one year remains on his contract at Old Trafford, so Man Utd face a decision over his future. They can either cash in now or reintegrate him with the risk of losing him for free next summer.
West Ham may be keen to explore a permanent deal for Lingard if they can afford it. However, he may also have earned a second chance in Manchester.
Ahead of the upcoming season, Lingard set out his demands and expectations.
“Regular football is the most important thing for me,” he told Sky Sports.
“After going on loan and getting a good run in the team, you started to see the real me, with the goals and the assists.
“I’ve never doubted my ability; I’ve always believed in myself. I spoke to the manager (Ole Gunnar Solskjaer) in pre-season and said, ‘I need game time’.
“He said, ‘we can discuss it December time’, and we spoke again and he agreed to let me go on loan.
“I had various conversations with him during my time at West Ham. He was very supportive and it was a great loan for me.”
Lingard reflects on Euros snub
As a result of his improved form in the first half of 2021, Lingard put himself back in England contention. He was named in their provisional squad for Euro 2020 before being cut from the final list.
However, he is proud upon reflection that he even got close to the squad after the situation he was in a year ago. That said, he was “emotional” to miss out.
“It was emotional,” he said about not making the 26-man squad. “You’re sad and you’re down, but you’ve got to respect the manager’s decision.
“Me and Gareth have a great relationship, and now it’s about supporting the boys.
“Last year, November time, I think no one thought I’d get near the team. But I worked hard, did well on loan and England came knocking.
“I enjoyed the camp in March. It’s always good to be back with the boys. I played in those games, and then coming up to the Euros, being involved in the 33-man squad was brilliant as well.
“I worked so hard to get there, I didn’t get picked, but I’ll always carry on supporting the boys.”