Jesse Lingard is enjoying a new lease of life at Old Trafford after his successful loan spell with West Ham last season
Jesse Lingard is enjoying a new lease of life at Old Trafford after his successful loan spell with West Ham last season

Jesse Lingard’s Manchester United departure never materialised this summer — and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer must be delighted that he remains at Old Trafford.

The Red Devils star is yet to start a Premier League game in the 2021-22 season but is thriving in his new super-sub role under the Norwegian tactician.

Late goals against Newcastle and West Ham have boosted the England international midfielder’s stock after he looked to be on his way out of the club just a few months ago.

Ahead of Manchester United’s clash with Villarreal tonight, we look at why Lingard is having such an impact off the bench this season.

Loanee Lingard

A half-season loan at West Ham has rejuvenated Lingard’s career.

He instantly became a fan favourite in East London, scoring nine goals in 16 games for the Hammers.

The 28-year-old’s hot streak came as a surprise to many — after all, he had scored just one Premier League goal since December 2018 prior to joining David Moyes’ side.

It was therefore even more of a shock when Lingard opted to try and prove his worth to Solskjaer instead of seeking a permanent move to the Hammers.

On the scoresheet

Jesse Lingard has scored with each of his shots in the Premier League to date
Jesse Lingard has scored with each of his shots in the Premier League to date

Lingard has already enjoyed a fruitful start to 2021-22, registering two goals in just 45 minutes of Premier League action.

He has only scored more than four league times in a single season at Old Trafford on one occasion, so is already enjoying a greater impact in the final third than for much of his United career.

The 31-cap international’s first strike came in the 4-1 demolition of Newcastle, when he finished off a great team move to add gloss to an impressive scoreline in stoppage time.

Lingard’s second United goal came against former side West Ham as the man from Warrington lived up to his super-sub billing by scoring the winner late on, to secure a 2-1 victory for the Red Devils.

It has not all been smooth sailing, however, as it was Lingard's wayward backpass that allowed Young Boys to score the winner in United's Champions League opener — an error he will be itching to make up for tonight.

Despite limited game time, Jesse Lingard is posting some impressive numbers for Manchester United
Despite limited game time, Jesse Lingard is posting some impressive numbers for Manchester United

Ronaldo inspiration

After Cristiano Ronaldo’s return to Old Trafford was announced, images circulated on social media of a young Lingard posing for a photo with the iconic forward.

In fact, Lingard has made no secret of the way he looked up to United’s No7 when growing up.

Speaking last week, he said: "If I could be one person for a day, it would be Ronaldo. Cristiano. I just want to see his day-to-day life.

"I want to see what he eats, what he drinks, the way he trains. I would love to get an insight into that."

Having an elite performer of Ronaldo’s ilk in the squad can only help his team-mates — Lingard included — to up their standards across the board.

Squad depth

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has mostly used Jesse Lingard on the left side in 2021-22
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has mostly used Jesse Lingard on the left side in 2021-22

Very few people expected Lingard to stay at Old Trafford once his boyhood hero Ronaldo returned.

The midfielder is capable of playing on either wing but his preferred position is undoubtedly as a No10 behind the striker.

However, the Red Devils already possess the prolific Bruno Fernandes in that position. The Portuguese has been United’s standout player in the last 18 months, so it is extremely unlikely that Lingard will displace him in the starting XI.

And on the flanks, he has new £73million signing Jadon Sancho, Mason Greenwood, Anthony Martial and close friend Marcus Rashford to contend with.

That leaves a substitute role as the only viable way for him to make an impact at the club.

Three Lions future

Lingard’s impressive form while on loan at West Ham put him in contention for a late call-up to Gareth Southgate’s Euro 2020 England squad.

The midfielder was included in the provisional 33-man group for the tournament but failed to make the final cut of 26 players.

Nonetheless, Lingard was selected for the Three Lions’ recent World Cup qualifying fixtures and scored a brace in the 4-0 victory over Andorra at Wembley.

If he can keep performing for club and country — even if that is off the bench — then do not rule out seeing the Manchester United maestro playing for England at Qatar 2022 next winter.

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Manchester UnitedVillarrealChampions League

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