Gareth Southgate absolutely raved about Jesse Lingard yesterday as links with a January move to West Ham from Manchester United refuse to go away.
The England boss did hint that Lingard needs to prove himself when given a chance for Manchester United, however.
The Three Lions manager responded when asked by the Evening Standard about the 28-year-old’s display for England last night:
“We know Jesse has a challenge and he knows he has a big challenge with the quality of attacking players at United. But they’ve also got a lot of matches in different competitions so hopefully he can take that challenge on and he will take that challenge on.”
Gareth Southgate went on to praise Jesse Lingard
“He has rebounded brilliantly in the last 12 months from a difficult period and he has shown today that he has got quality. It is not necessarily the quality of the opponent but it is performing with the quality of players that we have and stand out. That shows his level of quality. I know that I have had criticism for including him in squads but he is just a player that always plays well for us. He is always a threat on goal with bright link play. When we ask him to start wide, we know he will come in and do the give-and-gos.”
The England boss then praised Jesse even further still:
“He has really good intelligence and works hard without the ball and presses well. Today, I thought he was the brightest spark, particularly in the first half as it was the type of game where those players who can manipulate the ball between the lines would shine more than others.”
The key takeaway here, in my opinion, is when Southgate said, “We know Jesse has a challenge and he knows he has a big challenge with the quality of attacking players at United. But they’ve also got a lot of matches in different competitions so hopefully he can take that challenge on and he will take that challenge on.”
Competition at Manchester United in the attacking midfield and wide areas is probably the strongest out of all the clubs in the Premier League.
Jesse has to usurp the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Jadon Sancho, Bruno Fernandes, Mason Greenwood and Marcus Rashford if he is to start under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
I think we can all agree he just will not start in the Premier League for Manchester United unless at least two of those players are injured or suspended.
Southgate suggesting that ‘hopefully’ Lingard can take on the challenge of competition for places at Old Trafford seems to us to mean that he will not be picked for the World Cup squad IF he doesn’t play regularly for Man United.
Jesse Lingard has a big decision to make
Does he return to West Ham in January?
Hammers boss David Moyes wants to sign him according to Caught Offside.
Jesse will obviously have more chances to play at the London Stadium than he will Old Trafford. Southgate clearly can’t pick someone who plays here and there from the bench.
Lingard will have a big decision to make. Just how much does he want to play in another World Cup?
If he returns to the Hammers and produces similar numbers to what he did last season, he will be a shoo-in for England’s World Cup squad.
Staying at Manchester United could jeopardise his chances of that, however.
A big four months lie in wait for Jesse Lingard, Manchester United, West Ham, Gareth Southgate and England.