2020 was a difficult year for everybody all around the world, but for most professional footballers in England they had the comfort of continuing to play the sport they love.
Granted, there was a three-month period when elite level competition ground to a halt, but for the most part it was business as usual once the Premier League was given the go ahead to resume.
Unfortunately, not everybody has seen the minutes on the field that they once did, and that certainly applies to Manchester United attacking midfielder Jesse Lingard. Once viewed as one of the club’s most underrated players, owing to his incredible work rate and knack of turning up in the big games, it’s been some fall from grace for the 28-year-old.
Now, Lingard is unable to force his way into United’s matchday squads, and he hasn’t played a single minute of Premier League football since last July. He’s only scored one goal in two years, and has even partnered – and then split – with notorious super agent Mino Raiola in a bid to find a new club.
Amid links with a move to Sheffield United on loan, the Manchester Evening News note that Lingard is no longer regarded as a ‘core part’ of United’s squad, and has essentially been cast adrift from the first team picture.
Taking his place, so to speak, is new signing Amad Diallo, who has arrived at Old Trafford after bursting onto the scene at entertaining Serie A outfit Atalanta. From United’s perspective, there’s a known willingness to trim the fat on the squad, and that’s something Solskjaer alluded to when asked specifically about Lingard’s future recently.
“I don’t want to go into individuals but we can probably allow one or two more to go out,” the Norwegian said. “But one of the strengths we have is we have a deep squad, strength in depth. We don’t want to give our advantage away by easing off on our players.”
Lingard isn’t short of suitors – he’s been linked with Tottenham, West Ham, Porto and Nice too – but the one thing that may keep him in the north west longer than he may like are his wages. Even before the coronavirus pandemic was a thing, they were viewed as a potential stumbling for any team looking to buy him – and United may be forced to subsidise paying some of his money if a loan offer is tabled.