The academy graduate Jesse Lingard is prone to leave the club this summer in what will be a perfect exit as Europa League victory could be his goodbye gift.
The number 14, Jesse Lingard flashed up on the substitute board at Old Trafford on Wednesday night as he walked off the pitch annoyed.
Disappointment was written all over his face as he took his seat in the south stand for the last half an hour of the tie.
However, in reality, Lingard’s frustration is borne out of more than an early exit from the LASK game. Earlier in the week, he had sat next to Solskjaer for the pre-match press conference where the coach was asked if Lingard had a long-term future at the club. While the answer was positive, it is clear the 27-year-old’s time at the team he joined when he was 7 is nearing to an end.
Looking at how Lingard has been used especially after the restart, it is clear he is not part of the rebuild Solskjaer is overseeing. Of the nine Premier League games since June, the forward didn’t make the cut for the matchday squad for five of those. He only managed two appearances off the bench.
While Solskjaer’s favored starting XI stuttered over the line with fatigue creeping in, Lingard wasn’t called upon as a reliable back-up option. The attacker is however the first to admits it has been a poor campaign for him with personal issues affecting his form. While there is sympathy for the academy graduate, there is a realization from all parties that his time may be coming to an end.
Why the exit might be after Europa League campaign.
The mini-tournament to finish the Europa League campaign in Cologne is being billed by some as a way for Lingard to salvage his United career. But, even three good cameos, which is the best he can hope for, is unlikely to change the club’s position that they are open to offers for the midfielder.
There will be an element of sadness form both parties should he move on this summer. Solskjaer likes him, his presence is felt in the dressing room and has been at the club since he was seven. However, there is an acceptance his playing time will be limited onwards.
Solskjaer is set to build a strong team in Germany in pursuit of his first Silverware since Manchester United appointment in December 2018. Unfortunately, Lingard doesn’t fit in the bracket.
He will be desperate to impress not only for his manager but for potential buyers who will be aware of his fall out in Old Trafford.
Germany may, therefore, present the opportunity for the perfect farewell rather than a second chance.