Red Devils’ Dilemma
When Solskjaer sent Lingard out on loan to West Ham United in January, the Norwegian boss revealed that he wanted the Red Devils’ No.14 to be “revitalised”.
What followed was a sensational 16-game spell, which saw him score nine goals and assist a further four, as he helped the Hammers secure Europa League qualification.
The attacking midfielder’s time in East London saw him massively over perform his expected goals (xG) total of 5.1, prompting some suggestions that Lingard was simply on a ‘hot streak’ at the London Stadium.
Nonetheless, it was enough to convince England manager Gareth Southgate to bring him back into the Three Lions fold after over 21 months away, although he ultimately didn’t make the cut for Euro 2020.
With one of the most in-form Premier League players rejoining his ranks ahead of the current season, it’s hardly surprising that Solskjaer was reluctant to let him go back out on loan – especially back to a side that competed for a top six spot last campaign.
However, it’s his lack of game time which has raised a few eyebrows.
The transfer window shut with Lingard remaining at the North West giants, despite a reported £15m bid from West Ham.
Despite limited minutes, Lingard was again called back up to the England squad and earned his 31st cap on Sunday.
In his first full match of the season, the Manchester United man netted twice and assisted the final goal in a comfortable victory over Andorra.
Granted, the lowly level of opposition is something of a caveat, but it still raises questions around his minimal playing time for the Red Devils.
Where Would Solskjaer Fit Him In?
To say that Manchester United have plenty of attacking options this season would be an understatement.
In their opening three league matches, both Paul Pogba and summer signing Jadon Sancho have featured in the position Lingard would most likely take up in Solskjaer’s preferred 4-2-3-1 system.
Other names that the Norwegian could call upon to play on the left hand side include Marcus Rashford, Edinson Cavani and Anthony Martial, as he looks to shuffle his pack to incorporate the returning Cristiano Ronaldo.
All things considered, it looks highly likely that Lingard will be limited to more substitute appearances and some cup game cameos, until the January transfer window rolls around.
Future Away From Carrington
Lingard has been on the books of Manchester United since the turn of the millennium, joining their youth academy at the age of seven.
With his future at Old Trafford looking increasingly uncertain – despite a hugely successful 2021 – the chapter of his life spent with his boyhood club looks to be coming to a close.
He is no stranger to time away, having been loaned out on numerous occasions, including successful stints at Birmingham City, Brighton & Hove Albion, Derby County and, most recently, West Ham United.
As long as his former Red Devils boss David Moyes remains at the London Stadium, the capital will surely be his most likely destination.
Leicester City have also been touted as potential suitors, with Brendan Rodgers previously being interested in the midfield maestro back in January 2020.
Lingard’s first foray away from Old Trafford was a five-game loan spell at the King Power Stadium in late 2012, but Manchester United's reluctance to let him leave for a Premier League rival could well scupper that deal.
Atletico Madrid were tipped as a potential option this summer too, and he would have English company in Diego Simeone’s team, in the form of full-back Kieran Trippier.
Whatever is next for ‘J-Lingz’, more performances like his star turn on Sunday will only boost the England star’s stock further, and increase the clamour for his signature when the transfer window reopens.