Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will block an exit in January for midfielder Jesse Lingard as he believes the Englishman can still play a role at the club this season.
Lingard has yet to play a single minute in the Premier League or Champions League this year and has instead been forced to settle for just three domestic cup appearances. Therefore, it seemed likely the 28-year-old would be allowed to leave Old Trafford this month.
Lingard’s services have generated a lot of interest. The likes of Sheffield United, Newcastle and Real Sociedad have all been linked, and Sky Sports News has also thrown Ligue 1’s Nice into the mix.
However, the Telegraph specifically rejects the idea of contact with Nice and instead insists that Solskjaer doesn’t feel like pushing Lingard out the door this month.
Solskjaer is said to always see Lingard’s value as a team player – someone to fill in the gaps when first-team players need a rest or aren’t available – so he doesn’t want to leave the middle of land leave the club for now.
Once this season is over, Lingard will be encouraged to explore other options. He will enter the final year of his contract and United have already used their extension clause to prevent him from leaving for free this summer.
Instead of offloading Lingard, United will focus on eliminating other unwanted players. Timothy Fosu-Mensah has already sealed a permanent move to Bayer Leverkusen, and a number of fringe players could follow suit.
United are hoping to sell defender Marcos Rojo and goalkeeper Sergio Romero, with the will to sell Rojo particularly strong as his contract expires at the end of the season. Romero’s is also set to expire this summer, but United have a one-year extension clause to trigger if they wish.
Center-back Phil Jones is also in the market, although United are aware his £ 100,000-a-week salary could make a January move impossible and will even hurt his hopes of leaving next summer.
The Red Devils may also be waiting for the summer to find permanent buyers for Diogo Dalot and Andreas Pereira, currently on loan with AC Milan and Lazio respectively. Neither are expected to return to Old Trafford and the hope is that the pair can attract some offers over the next six months.
There is a lot of uncertainty about spending at United, but one thing is certain is that striker Odion Ighalo, who has just nine Premier League minutes under his belt this year, will leave the club once his loan expired on January 31.
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