After spending the entirety of his footballing career signed to Manchester United, Jesse Lingard will finally leave Old Trafford permanently this summer.
In unfortunately sour circumstances, too, having fallen completely out of favour and left to sit out his contract twiddling his thumbs.
Signing with the club as a nine-year-old, the academy graduate has put ‘blood, sweat and tears’ into his career as a Red Devil, according to his brother Louie Scott, who has reacted at the end of a frustrating season.
Lingard’s brother hit out at United on Instagram after the midfielder remained an unused substitute in their final home game of the season, a 3-0 win against Brentford. While the players did their usual lap of honour to say thank you to supporters, it was also seen as a chance for departing figures to say one last, proper goodbye to Old Trafford.
Juan Mata and Nemanja Matic were given that chance from the start, while Edinson Cavani said his goodbyes with a cameo appearance, but interim manager Ralf Rangnick opted against introducing Lingard.
Tensions have now boiled over following an immensely difficult season for the 29-year-old who will leave for free following the expiry of his contract. What is strange about the situation, though, is the way United have handled it.
After a tremendously successful loan spell with West Ham during the second half of the 2020/21 campaign, United had the chance to sell Lingard permanently in the summer. They weren’t willing to budge on the price they’d set for their FA Cup, Europa League and EFL Cup winning midfielder, however, so when West Ham refused to pay, he stayed put in Manchester.
This was fine, as reports at the time indicated that then-manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer had plans to use Lingard following an impressive loan, but that simply never happened. He’s started just twice in the Premier League all season and played a measly 548 minutes of football in all competitions.
Rangnick also didn’t fancy Lingard upon his arrival, which he made clear in the January transfer window, but again United put up some rather unusual demands to sanction his departure. Priced out of loans and permanent moves, Lingard was stuck and surplus to requirements under the German.
In a completely avoidable saga that has dragged on between Lingard and United, it is easy to forget that their 29-year-old midfielder – while never a world beater or someone that could have changed their fortunes significantly in such a dismal campaign – is still a fine footballer.
Lingard has won three domestic trophies and a Europa League with United, scoring in three cup finals for the club. Despite not being the most reliable when it comes to racking up goal contributions season after season, he was a terrific rotation option and embodied the DNA of the club.
Just because he might not be the calibre of player United need in their starting XI, doesn’t mean he isn’t a top class talent on his day. Serving as a reminder of that ability is the following compilation which has amassed over a million views, highlighting ten times where Lingard has silenced his critics.
And boy does it remind you. He possesses a terrific ability to turn up the heat in big moments, which the compilation does a great job reminding you of.
VIDEO: Jesse Lingard’s best moments
His loan spell to the Hammers proved just how effective he could be at a slightly lower level, and his cup game record is rather filthy.
With United in desperate need of a hero at the 2016 FA Cup final, Lingard stepped up to answer the prayers with an exquisite volley, displaying his composure on a major stage.
Then at Wembley again, this time effortlessly dancing his way past an onslaught of unforgiving challenges from Leicester’s defence and tucking the ball beyond Kasper Schmeichel during the 2016 Community Shield. It’s genius from the England international, who also showcased that top level to his game at the 2018 World Cup in similarly spectacular bursts.
And of course, we can’t forget how he made the Emirates his own personal dancefloor. Bagging a brace away to Arsenal, he single-handedly secured a win for his club and produced an iconic ‘Milly Rock’ celebration, that the streets won’t forget.
Lingard’s story has ended sourly at United, and unfortunately so. But, whoever can snap him up for free this summer will be getting a man with redemption on his mind, ready to steal the show once again.