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Pressure is mounting on the shoulders of Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, but a recent revelation would indicate that he is set to stay at Old Trafford. The Red Devils have been in freefall down the Premier League table in recent months and the feeling around Old Trafford was that every game was ‘make or break’ for the Norwegian, but that may not be the case.
England international Jesse Lingard is reportedly set to leave United after declining a contract extension offer, leaving football director John Murtagh with little choice but to sell the playmaker.
The 28-year-old is out of contract at the end of the season and it was uncertain as to whether the versatile midfielder was willing to try and force himself into Solskjaer’s plans or secure himself a more important squad role elsewhere.
According to The Sun, United’s decision-makers have now come to the conclusion that they will be forced to sell Lingard in the January transfer window in order to at least get a fee for their academy product, with a cut-price fee of £10million the suggested figure.
Newcastle United and West Ham, where the player spent the latter half of last season on loan, are the two clubs being linked with securing Lingard’s signature but it remains to be seen who else registers an interest closer to the window.
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Although an insignificant move in regards to the overall squad given that Lingard has played just 68 minutes of Premier League football this season, it could speak volumes about the managerial situation at The Theatre of Dreams.
Leicester City manager Brendan Rodgers has been heavily linked with replacing Solskjaer at United by numerous reports.
However, if the club have now put Lingard in the shop window then it could indicate that Rodgers is not actually in the frame considering that he pushed for the Foxes to sign him over the summer.
A report from The Sun in September read that if Leicester let James Maddison join Arsenal then they were keen to replace the midfielder with Lingard.
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Therefore, if those in the higher powers at United knew that Rodgers was on his way, the departure of Lingard simply does not make sense as the former Liverpool boss is clearly a fan of the playmaker.
Last month, Solskjaer spoke of how United were keen to keep Lingard, he said: “Jesse’s had a good start to the season. He’s come on and scored a few goals for us, that’s been very important for us.
“We want to prolong his contract, we see him as an important player. It’s up to him, maybe up to me, to give him more playing time because he deserves to.
“Hopefully, we can get a deal sorted for Jesse because we really rate him.”
Potentially, the decision has been taken out of United’s hands and the player is adamant about leaving.
However, given that the club are in freefall and Lingard is a player that is capable of scoring crucial goals – shown by his nine goals in 16 appearances for the Hammers as they chased Europa League football – United would be able to put more money and guarantees on the table if they were keen for him to stay.
Lingard has one eye on the 2022 World Cup and after missing out on the Euros this year and not being included in Gareth Southgate’s recent squad for the qualifiers, it may have been a reality check for the former Brighton loanee that he is slipping down the pecking order for the Three Lions.
It remains to be seen whether Lingard chooses to in fact remain at United or opts to move elsewhere in a bid to become a more useful asset for a different club, and the arrival (or not) of Rodgers could be a crucial factor in the midfielder’s decision.
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