Jesse Lingard has rediscovered his best form at West Ham United, potentially opening new doors for Manchester United ahead of the summer transfer window.
Lingard has been a sensation at West Ham, scoring eight and assisting four in just nine Premier League appearances, helping the Hammers establish themselves as serious top four contenders.
And there is already transfer talk surrounding the midfielder ahead of this summer when he will hope to be called up for the European Championships with England.
West Ham are likely to look into whether they can make the move permanent, while Arsenal have also been linked with a move depending on whether they can make Martin Odegaard’s loan deal from Real Madrid permanent.
And while current form might make it tempting for United to bring the 28-year-old back to Old Trafford ahead of next season, the Reds should seriously consider resisting.
The fact is that Lingard’s form has opened up doors that United did not think would be there. They could potentially make around £40million on a player who was meandering towards the end of his contract at Old Trafford.
Lingard had made just three appearances for United before his loan move and managed just four goals and two assists in 40 appearances across all competitions last season.
Before his loan move in January, the midfielder could realistically have left United for a fee of less than £20m with his contract set to expire in 2022.
And realistically speaking, with just two years left at his peak in terms of age, United now have the opportunity to make around double that.
That seems like it should be a no-brainer when you remove the desire to see Lingard do his best work in a United shirt, having come through the academy at the club.
That’s a longing Solskjaer feels too, saying on Wednesday: “Jesse has been brilliant since he left. I’ve answered this quite a few times. Selfishly, we could have kept him because he’s always got a part to play.
“Jesse’s a fantastic lad around the place, Man United through and through, never once did he moan or cause me a problem (during a lack of playing time), just came in and worked really hard.
“And he deserved a chance to play more football, that’s why we let him go to West Ham, he deserved a chance for what he’s done throughout his life for Man United.
“Of course we’ll welcome him back. I hope he goes to the Euros because with his performances now and the confidence he’s got, I don’t think that’s beyond him. And I hope he has a strong finish to the league.
“It was different here, because Bruno, the form he’s played in arguably Jesse’s favourite position, and that was the decision we made. Delighted for Jesse and wish him well for the rest of the season until he comes back.”
But it might be time to accept that Lingard might just be better off away from the pressures of Old Trafford, with a change of scenery, and United might just be better off with the £40m in their pocket.
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The Reds might be blessed with being financially secure, but as they attempt to sign a top defender and striker this summer – a task that could set them back somewhere in the region of £200m – they could do with the extra cash.
Lingard replicating this form would be the stuff of dreams for some United fans, many of whom have been desperate to see him reach his potential across a number of years.
But aside from this recent West Ham form, has he done enough to get another two, three years on his contract? And is he going to repay that faith given he is already 28?
It’s a risk, particularly given how much teams might be willing to pay this summer. But if that £40m proves to be the difference in getting Erling Haaland or missing out, is there really a decision to make?